The war in Syria has exacerbated sectarian tensions in Lebanon, forcing Beirut to deploy security forces in the Bekaa Valley
The war in Syria has exacerbated sectarian tensions in Lebanon, forcing Beirut to deploy security forces in the Bekaa Valley © - AFP/File
The war in Syria has exacerbated sectarian tensions in Lebanon, forcing Beirut to deploy security forces in the Bekaa Valley
AFP
Last updated: September 6, 2014

Lebanese hostages threatened over Hezbollah Syria role

Al-Qaeda's Syria franchise Friday released a video showing nine Lebanese army and police hostages it said could pay the price for the Shiite group Hezbollah's military intervention in Syria's conflict.

The Al-Nusra Front video, entitled "Who Will Pay the Price?", shows the abducted members of Lebanon's security forces condemning Hezbollah, which has fought alongside President Bashar al-Assad's regime against rebels.

More than 35 Lebanese police and soldiers were captured in unprecedented clashes on August 2 between the country's security forces and jihadists who had crossed the border from Syria.

At least 15 soldiers and 14 policemen are still being held by three groups, including Al-Nusra Front and the jihadist Islamic State (IS).

A captured Sunni Lebanese soldier, Ali Sayyed, was beheaded by IS militants whose sympathisers released an online video last week purporting to show the atrocity.

IS and other jihadists overran the town of Arsal near the border with Syria in clashes early last month following the arrest of a Syrian accused of belonging to an extremist group.

In the footage released on Friday, one hostage sitting with the others in front of a jihadist banner asks why he must pay the price for Hezbollah's intervention in Syria.

Hezbollah has been instrumental in helping Assad's regime retake several rebel bastions, and its presence in Lebanon's war-ravaged neighbour has sparked anger among Syria's Sunni-majority population.

In the video, another hostage says that if Hezbollah fighters keep battling alongside Assad's men, the group "will have our blood on his hands".

After Sayyed was beheaded, relatives of other hostages blocked roads in Lebanon to try to pressure the government to negotiate for the release of their loved ones.

The militants have reportedly sought to negotiate the release of the hostages in exchange for Islamist prisoners held in Lebanese jails.

Lebanese officials have rejected holding talks on a possible prisoner swap.

After a meeting of a Lebanese government crisis group, Deputy Prime Minister Samir Moqbel confirmed his country's position.

"Efforts are being made at a state level, and the most serious work is being done with the state of Qatar," Moqbel told reporters.

Qatar was instrumental in securing the release in March of 13 Syrian nuns and their three maids who had been held hostage for four months by Al-Nusra Front in the war-torn country.

In its latest footage, Al-Nusra says photographs and video show Hezbollah has bombarded Syrian towns and villages, killed children and raped Sunni women.

The video also includes clips of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah defending the group's role in Syria's conflict.

Twenty soldiers, dozens of jihadists and 16 civilians were killed in the fighting that ended after mediation by Sunni Lebanese clerics.

The fighting in Arsal was the most serious border incident since the conflict in Syria erupted in March 2011.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Stay Connected
twitter icon Twitter 13,558 linkedin icon LinkedIn 463
facebook icon Facebook 87,173 google+ icon Google+ 272