Aoun to push for swap deal to save nine Daesh-held Lebanese soldiers
Relatives of Lebanese soldiers and policemen being held hostage by jihadists in Syria, hold portraits during a protest to press for their release. (AFP/Joseph Eid)
Talks in Doha between Lebanese officials and Qatari authorities could lead to a swap deal in return for the nine Lebanese soldiers abducted by Daesh in 2014, a report said Tuesday.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who will head a delegation to Doha on Wednesday, is expected to press Qatar to pursue the case of the nine Lebanese servicemen, the Qatari Al-Rai newspaper said.
"Talks in Doha could lead to opening channels for a comprehensive swap deal with several parties," the daily added.
It said that six of the soldiers were still alive, while the fates of the other three were unknown.
Last week, General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said that two mediators were working on the case of the Daesh-abducted Lebanese soldiers, one of whom was in the extremist group's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.
Ibrahim said that the other negotiator was working in the northeastern border town of Arsal.
The nine soldiers have been held captive since Daesh, along with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – formerly the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front – briefly overran the northeast border town of Arsal in August 2014.
More than 30 soldiers and policemen were initially captured but most were released. Some were killed in captivity, however, and nine army personnel are still being held by Daesh.
President Michel Aoun, who is currently holding talks in Riyadh, has assured the families that he has been following the issue since its beginning and that he would continue to work on their case during international visits.