BEIRUT: Hezbollah is against former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s intervention to free nine Lebanese pilgrims held by Syrian rebels, Future Movement MP Oqab Saqr said in an interview late Wednesday.
“It is clear that Hezbollah does not want the kidnapped Lebanese to be released via us,” Saqr told Future Television in an interview with talk show host Paula Yaacoubian.
“We have not given up mediation and we are not trying to release them to emerge as heroes since this is our duty,” Saqr added.
Saqr said Hariri and FSA officials were eager to continue mediation to secure the hostages’ freedom after Hariri intervened.
He said Hariri has urged “people inside Syria” to follow-up mediation efforts after the Free Syrian Army announced it was backing down in its attempts to release the Lebanese men.
Saqr pointed out that a large FSA delegation intends to meet the kidnapper.
“The Free [Syrian] Army will launch a new initiative tomorrow [Thursday] and we hope they will succeed in getting the hostages out,” he said.
Saqr said the hostage-taker had previously presented a list of names that he wanted to exchange for the Lebanese hostages.
“But they were not freed and they – one of them minister [Salim] Jreissati – accused us of seeking the release of Al-Qaeda members.”
Saqr’s comments coincided with a similar announcement that the FSA will resume mediation efforts to win the release of the pilgrims.
“A delegation of leading figures from the Free Syrian Army will head to Azaz to work on freeing the kidnapped [pilgrims] on the request of former Prime Minister Hariri,” FSA official Louay Meqdad told Future TV.
The nine men were kidnapped last year in the Azaz district of Aleppo on their way back from a pilgrimage to Iran.
Saqr defended Turkey and said putting pressure on Ankara will not serve the best interest of the hostages.
He was referring to threats issued against Turkish interests in Lebanon by the hostages’ families.
“Putting pressure on Turkish interests does not serve the hostages’ issue because Turkey cannot pressure the kidnappers,” he said. “Besides, the Turks have done all they can.”