Qatar denies paying ransoms in Lebanon and al-Nusra Front prisoner swap
A released Lebanese prisoner receives support from a colleague. (AFP/File)
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Qatari ambassador Ali bin Hamad al-Marri slammed on Wednesday media reports claiming that his country has paid large amounts of money in the swap deal that saw the release of Lebanese soldiers a day earlier, al-Joumhouria daily reported.
“Qatar did not pay a single dollar but only led the role of mediator which took plenty of time,” al-Marri told the paper.
On the servicemen that are still captive by Daesh, al-Marri confirmed that there are no ongoing negotiations between his country and Daesh to release the rest of the soldiers, but expressed Qatar's readiness to “carry out any humanitarian action for the sake of Lebanon.”
On Tuesday, 16 servicemen - 13 policemen and three soldiers - that were captured in 2014 by al-Qaida affiliated al-Nusra Front were released in a swap deal that involved the release of more than a dozen extremist-affiliated prisoners from Lebanese and Syrian prisons, including the former wife of Daesh chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Saja al-Dulaimi.
It also gave Nusra Front several trucks of humanitarian aid.
The list of demands that saw the release of the servicemen included paying $48 million that media reports said were paid by Qatar.
Nine servicemen are still held captive by Daesh.
The prisoner exchange comes 16 months after al-Nusra and Daesh briefly overran the town of Arsal on Lebanon's eastern border with Syria after clashes with Lebanese troops.
The groups withdrew under a truce deal, but around 30 hostages with them.
Four of the hostages were subsequently executed by the two groups, including Mohammed Hamieh, whose body was turned over to Lebanese authorities on Tuesday morning in the first stage of the deal.
By D.A. and M.T.
Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material
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- All 16 Lebanese captives released by Nusra Front
- Lebanon celebrates prisoner swap, begins move to bring home remaining captives
- Nusra Front denies asking for prisoner exchange with Lebanese soldier captives
- Syrian rebels release 141 female prisoners in exchange for Maaloula nuns