BEIRUT: Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Friday that his next visit to Turkey would be to bring back the 10 Lebanese hostages that have been held in Syria since May.
Charbel maintained his optimism about finding a quick solution to the Lebanese hostage crisis, saying he expected their release soon.
He spoke after meeting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, with whom he discussed the issue of 12 Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels.
“We discussed the issue of the kidnapped people. I can tell you that there is a very positive result and we are satisfied,” Charbel said.
When asked whether his next visit to Turkey would be to bring the Lebanese hostages back home, Charbel said: “God willing, of course, we will go to bring the kidnapped Lebanese back with us.”
Charbel’s remarks came a day after another Turkish national, Abdel-Basset Orsolan, was freed by his captors.
Also Thursday, the Lebanese Army arrested the spokesman of the Meqdad Shiite clan that had released Turkish businessman Aydin Tufan Tekin and four Syrians after heavy pressure from the military.
The Meqdad clan’s military wing kidnapped Tekin and four Syrians in retaliation for the abduction of one of their clansmen, Hassan Meqdad, by anti-regime forces in Damascus.
Orsolan was taken by a group that identified itself as the “Mukhtar al-Thaqafi Brigades” to press for the release of the 10 Lebanese hostages held by the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Following the release of the two Turks, Charbel was asked whether Turkey would reciprocate by helping to secure the freedom of the 10 Lebanese hostages held by the FSA in the Azaz district near the Syrian-Turkish border.
“The Turks have never asked us to swap the kidnapped Turks with the kidnapped Lebanese. But the Lebanese state has proved that it will not accept kidnapped people within its territory,” Charbel said.
He added that the Lebanese Army had launched a security search in Beirut’s southern suburbs last week to rescue four Syrians whose freedom no one had sought.
Charbel and General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim Wednesday visited Turkey, where they held talks with the chief of Turkish intelligence on the fate of 12 Lebanese kidnapped by Syrian rebels.
Charbel said the Turks have been determined since the beginning of the crisis to help secure the freedom of the Lebanese hostages in Syria.
The interior minister added that Hassan Meqdad and another Lebanese man continue to be held in Syria, in addition to the 10 remaining Lebanese pilgrims snatched by the FSA in the Syrian city of Aleppo on May 22.
The Shiite pilgrims were abducted while returning from Iran.
The FSA released Hussein Ali Omar, one of 11 pilgrims who were abducted, on Aug. 25 in response to a request by the head of the Committee of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon Sheikh Hasan Qaterji.
“What matters is that as we have shown goodwill toward all the kidnapped people [in Lebanon], I hope that the other sides that can influence this matter in or outside Lebanon, will show goodwill so that we can bring back the kidnapped Lebanese to their families,” Charbel said.