Negotiations for Lebanese hostages intensifying in Turkey
While security sources say negotiations with Daesh and Nusra have made progress, uncertainty about whether key release deal details can be agreed upon means the fate of 25 Lebanese servicemen held since last August still hangs in the balance. (AFP/File)
General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim is engaging in “tough negotiations” in Turkey to reach a solution for the release of the 25 Lebanese servicemen being held hostage by Islamist militants on Lebanon’s northeastern border.
Ibrahim, who reportedly traveled to Turkey in the past two days, is meeting with the principle mediator with the captors on the government’s behalf, according to a report published by As-Safir Saturday.
The report said that agreement has been reached over most of the demands of the captors, including swapping prisoners in Lebanese and Syrian prisons in return for the hostage’s release. The captors are also demanding a “large” ransom, the report added.
A source told the daily of a “positive atmosphere” in the talks and that “quick developments” will see the release of the captives in a relatively short period of time.
The source however did not downplay concerns that an agreement could be easily delayed or hampered by disputes over certain details in the agreement.
The principle negotiator mediating between the government and the Nusra Front was expected in Lebanon last week, however Health Minsiter Wael Abu Faour Tuesday said that the government was still waiting for him to arrive.
Abu Faour also said that the resumption of talks with the captors was pending the mediator’s arrival in Lebanon.
Ibrahim’s visit to Turkey may come as a result of the latter’s failure to come to Lebanon.
At least 25 Lebanese servicemen have been held hostage by ISIS (Daesh) and the Nusra Front since the two groups waged fierce battles against the Lebanese army in the northeastern border town of Arsal last August.
Ibrahim’s talks in Turkey will mainly focus on efforts to secure the release of at least 16 Lebanese servicemen being held by the Nusra Front which has submitted its demands to the Lebanese government.
Negotiations with ISIS on the other hand have been stalled.
Ibrahim’s voyage comes to the backdrop of invalid reports that wrongly claimed that at least nine Lebanese servicemen being held hostage by ISIS were relocated to the groups stronghold in Syria.
Rumors that a transfer had occurred emerged Tuesday after a report published by Al-Binaa newspaper, which belongs to the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, claimed that the hostages had been moved.
Sources involved in negotiations have denied that a transfer has taken place.
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