Lebanon waits for Turkish response in bid to free hostages

Lebanese Army soldiers inspect a site that was hit by a rocket in the town of Baalbek in Lebanon's Bekaa valley.

Lebanese Army soldiers inspect a site that was hit by a rocket in the town of Baalbek in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley.

Beirut is waiting for Ankara’s response on whether it will join efforts to secure the release of 25 Lebanese service personnel held hostage by Islamist fighters near the Syria border, Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star reported on Monday.

Security officials sent a letter to the Turkish government around 10 days, but have yet to receive a response, according the daily.

An unnamed security official quoted by the newspaper said that Turkey and Qatar are the only countries that could help end the five-month hostage crisis.

Qatar has intervened previously in hostage situations involving Lebanese citizens captured by Syria-based Islamist militants.

In March 2014, a group of Lebanese nuns seized by militants in the historic Syria town of Maaloula were released with the help of Qatari mediation. Doha’s efforts were also pivotal in the October 2013 release of nine Lebanese pilgrims who were held for more than a year in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

ISIS and al-Nusra Front briefly overran the northeastern Lebanese border town of Arsal in early August, taking with them over 30 Lebanese servicemen. They have since killed four and released eight.

“They will continue to blackmail Lebanon and the hostage families through this precious card,” said the unnamed official.


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