BEIRUT: Both a Muslim preacher and Turkey’s ambassador to Lebanon expressed optimism Thursday about an early resolution for the case of nine Lebanese hostages held in Syria.
Sheikh Abbas Zgheib, who was tasked by the Higher Shiite Council to follow up the issue of Lebanese hostages in Syria, discussed their case during a meeting with General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. Zgheib was accompanied by some families of the hostages.
“We visited Maj. Gen. Ibrahim and the atmosphere was positive and reassuring. We have felt from him that strenuous work was under way to end this issue with utmost speed,” Zgheib told reporters after the meeting.
He added that Ibrahim was also working to determine the fate of Mohammad Blaybil, who was kidnapped in the Syrian city of Homs.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Inan Ozyildiz, expressed hope that the case of the Lebanese kidnapped in Syria would see “a breakthrough” in the next few days.
Speaking to reporters after visiting notables and Muslim and Christian religious figures in the southern city of Tyre, he said: “Turkey has not spared any effort since the first day of their abduction to secure their release and their return to their families.”
“We know that this is a sensitive issue and we know the reactions. But we continue to make efforts to reach a happy end to this issue,” Ozyildiz added.
Hopes for a resolution for the issue of Lebanese hostages in Syria have risen since captors from the rebel Free Syrian Army have released two hostages: Hussein Ali Omar in August and Awad Ibrahim last month.
In addition to the nine remaining Lebanese hostages held by the FSA, Hassan Meqdad and another Lebanese were also held by Syrian rebels.
The 11 Shiite pilgrims were abducted on May 22 while returning from a pilgrimage in Iran. Hours later, the Syrian captors released all but the 11 men.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 19, 2012, on page 3.