BEIRUT: Families of the nine remaining Lebanese hostages in Syria clashed Tuesday with security forces trying to prevent them from storming the Turkish Embassy in Rabieh, north of Beirut.
Riot police and Lebanese Army commandos managed to push the dozens of protesters back. Security forces, however, allowed the protesters to set up a tent outside the embassy.
"We're not going to stop our actions," ex-Lebanese hostage Awad Ibrahim told The Daily Star from Rabieh.
"We are going to target all the Turkish interests in Lebanon, including Turkish Airlines offices, factories, shipments and the embassy," he vowed.
Ibrahim, one of the two Lebanese hostages released late last year, said the relatives plan to head to Beirut port later in the day in an effort to prevent Turkish vessels from unloading their shipment.
The brief confrontation came a day after the families of the nine Lebanese hostages targeted Turkish interests in Beirut as part of their protest over the failure to secure the release of their loved ones.
The relatives rallied outside the fish market in Beirut’s Karantina neighborhood shortly before midnight Monday, preventing drivers of refrigerated trucks from unloading their cargo. Their move was part of a recent decision to boycott Turkish products in a bid to pressure Ankara to do more to secure the release of their relatives.
The protesters vowed to adopt even harsher measures.
“Since we got fed up with false promises, we will continue to step up our action until the release of the kidnapped [men],” said Adham Zogheib, speaking on behalf of the relatives.
He said the relatives plan to target “entire Turkish interests [in Lebanon] by all methods and means.”
Police and the Lebanese Army deployed Tuesday along the road leading to the Turkish Embassy in Rabieh after they received a tip-off that the relatives intend to stage a sit-in outside the premises.
Turkey has said it is making every possible effort to secure the release of Lebanese hostages held in Syria since last May.
“There are no updates over the case but we are following up, especially after the actions of [the hostage’s] relatives. We are upholding efforts in this area,” Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon Inan Ozyildiz said Sunday.
Eleven Shiite Lebanese were abducted in the region of Aleppo, north Syria, on their way back home from a pilgrimage in Iran 10 months ago.
Ibrahim was released in September. Another hostage was let go in August.