BEIRUT: The families of 11 Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria two months ago held a rally Tuesday near the presidential palace in Baabda, northeast of Beirut, to protest the government's failure to secure their release.
Around a dozen men and women gathered outside Bou Khalil Supermarket, some four kilometers from the presidential palace, in a bid to pressure government leaders meeting in Baabda to redouble their efforts to secure the release of their loved ones.
The pilgrims, all Shiites, were kidnapped on May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey. They were on their way back to Lebanon following a pilgrimage to Iran.
A previously unknown group calling itself "Syrian Rebels in Aleppo" claimed responsibility for the abduction, saying five of the hostages were members of Hezbollah. Hezbollah and their families deny the claim.
The group demanded that Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah apologize for comments he had made in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Nasrallah, a staunch ally of Assad, said the abduction would not change Hezbollah’s stance on the events in Syria.