Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Jamal al-Jarrah on Saturday announced that the rebel Free Syrian Army has managed to save the captive Lebanese troops from a “massacre” at the hands of their jihadist kidnappers.
“One cannot say that negotiations have taken place until the moment, but rather efforts by a number of good-willed individuals to secure the release of the hostage troops,” Jarrah said in an interview on Future TV.
“These efforts are serious and ongoing, the last of which was a mediation by the FSA, which prevented the killing of the troops in the wake of the latest tensions in Arsal,” the MP added.
He was referring to army raids on Syrian refugee encampments in the Bekaa border town of Arsal, in which a suspect was killed and scores of Syrians and Lebanese, including four gunmen belonging to al-Nusra Front, were arrested.
The crackdown sparked an angry protest by Syrian refugees and prompted al-Nusra to accuse the army of persecuting Syrians in Lebanon.
“I fear for the troops, as had it not been for the FSA's lauded, last-minute intervention, we would have witnessed a massacre against the troops,” Jarrah added.
Arsal has been the battlefront of the Lebanese army in its fight with jihadists since they crossed the border from Syria and overran the town in early August. The militants from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State kidnapped around 35 troops during their withdrawal.
Several soldiers and policemen remain in captivity while three have been executed by the two groups.
The kidnapping and executions have caused deep anger and anxiety in Lebanon and led to a backlash against Syrian refugees in some places.
Health Minister Wael Abou Faour revealed Saturday that Turkey has promised the Lebanese government to offer help in the case, noting that “some progress” has been made in the negotiations.
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