BEIRUT: A Lebanese Islamist militant arrested in an ambush by the Syrian army late last year in the Syrian border town of Tal Kalakh was returned Thursday to Lebanon, a spokesman for the families of the Lebanese fighters said.
“Hassan Srour is at the Beirut headquarters of the Lebanese General Security,” Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim told The Daily Star.
The General Security confirmed later Thursday the handover and said in a statement that it was seeking to close the case.
In footage on Syria’s state-run TV prior to his release, Srour said he had been brainwashed while in Tripoli, north Lebanon, and was trained in the ways of jihad.
“When I was in Bab al-Tabbaneh, they used to show us videos of the Syrian army killing children and raping women but here I saw that it was not them,” Srour, sporting a black beard, told reporters.
“In Bab al-Tabbaneh we were given lessons in jihad,” he also said.
Srour said his group had been dispatched to "fight in Syria" by sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahal, a shadowy militant sheikh who has played a major role in Tripoli clashes.
"Thank God I've been released," he added.
Shahal swiftly responded, denying Srour's claim.
"The Syrian regime forced Srour to say this," the sheikh said.
At least 20 fighters from Tripoli were killed in the December 2012 ambush by the Syrian army in Tal Kalakh near the border with Lebanon.
Since the ambush, Syria has handed over the bodies of most of the slain fighters, but locals have said that four remain missing.
Ibrahim said the young Srour was among the four.
He said Srour would be delivered to his family in Tripoli, north Lebanon, later Thursday.