Beirut rally urges govt. action on abducted soldiers
The protest was held outside the Grand Serail, the prime minister’s office, where a cabinet session was underway on the issue on Thursday.
The protesters, who were mostly the relatives of the hostages, urged Lebanese Army Chief General Jean Kahwaji to “arrest all ministers” and exchange them for the kidnapped soldiers.
“We have an initiative that involves the (army’s) arrest of all ministers and swapping them for the troops held by the militants out of respect for the state’s prestige,” a spokesman for the protesters and the hostages’ families said.
“We give the state 24 hours to act or else we won’t be responsible for the consequences,” the spokesman said, adding, “We want our sons, with or without an exchange, and we all throw our support behind the army chief and we hope he will fulfill our demand.”
Lebanese people had previously held similar demonstrations throughout the country, blocking roads and setting up protest tents.
The ISIL Takfiri militants abducted several Lebanese soldiers and policemen in the border town of Arsal after a bloody battle last month.
On Wednesday, thousands of Lebanese people took part in the funeral of Sergeant Ali Sayid, a soldier decapitated by the ISIL terrorists. Sayid, 29, went missing after the Takfiris launching an attack from inside Syria and captured Arsal in August.
The angry Lebanese mourners buried Sayid in his hometown, a village near Tripoli, accusing the government of failing to negotiate the soldier’s safe return home.
Violence erupted in eastern Lebanon on August 2 after soldiers arrested a Syrian man who the army said confessed to belonging to the ISIL. Angered by the arrest, the Takfiri militants opened fire on army checkpoints and stormed a police station in a border area.
Following truce negotiations with the ISIL militants, they agreed to retreat from the town and freed some prisoners. Around two dozen other soldiers of the Lebanese army and police are yet held captive by the ISIL militants.
The Takfiri militants had reportedly infiltrated into Lebanon from Syria’s mountainous al-Qalamoun region.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011, with ISIL Takfiri terrorists currently controlling parts of it mostly in the east.
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