BEIRUT: A Syrian man held hostage in Lebanon by the Meqdad clan said Friday he was trained at a military camp belonging to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in north Lebanon.
The man identified himself as Rajab Alawish in a video aired by the Meqdad family during a press conference in the Roueiss neighborhood in Beirut’s southern suburbs. He said he was sent to Lebanon from Syria to form armed groups that would fight the Syrian army and pro-Syrian elements in Lebanon.
Alawish added that Future Movement MP Khaled Daher and Egyptian sheikhs visited him and his comrades before they were caught.
It is unknown if Alawish made his statements under duress.
At one point, he said that he was among 50 hostages held by the Meqdad clan.
Prior to the video being played, Maher Meqdad, the spokesperson for the Meqdad clan, said that among the hostages was the spokesperson of the Syrian coordination committee in Homs, Abdallah Homsi, and another official identified as Mohammad Hammadeh.
He also said that the Meqdads had released 21 of the Syrians it took hostage, after determining that they were not members of the FSA.
“We released two today; together with the ones we let go yesterday, this makes for a total of 21,” Meqdad told reporters.
He demanded that the FSA release Hassan Meqdad, who was kidnapped by the Syrian rebels earlier this week.
Addressing the FSA, Meqdad said: “If it is clear to you that the hostage is innocent and you know the reason for him being in Syria ... and you release him, then that is a sign of prudence rather than a concession.”
The Meqdad clan’s self-styled “military wing” kidnapped over 30 Syrians and a Turkish national Wednesday in retaliation for their relative’s abduction. They have said they are only targeting Syrians with links to the FSA.
Speaking to reporters, Meqdad reiterated that the clan suspended the first phase of military operations and that they formed a family committee to follow up on the case of Hassan.
“We reject attacks on public and private property and the blocking of roads including the airport road because that harms people’s interests; we confirm our commitment to civil peace,” he said.
“We will not target innocent Syrians -- the tomato sellers or any other workers,” Meqdad added.