HAWSH SNID, Lebanon: With flowers and tears, the body of Lance Cpl. Ali Qassem Ali was finally received by his family in the Bekaa Valley Sunday, nine months after he was killed in clashes with jihadi militants in northeast Lebanon.
“I have been waiting for you,” said his mother, who collapsed into tears as soldiers carried the coffin to the family residence. A military band played “The Goodbye Symphony” for their fallen comrade.
The motorcade was welcomed with flowers in the village of Hawsh Snid, where Ali’s family lives, as relatives and residents finally got their chance to say goodbye to Ali.
The martyr’s father tried to contain himself during the procession, but before long he too broke down in tears.
Ali was killed during clashes in Arsal last August with ISIS militants, who then took his body from the field. The group continues to hold nine Lebanese servicemen captive.
Ali’s body was turned over to Lebanese authorities by the jihadi group on May 1. His identity was verified by DNA testing. It wasn’t until November that it became clear that Ali had been killed during the five-day battle during which Nusra Front and ISIS fighters briefly overran the town. It was initially believed that he had been kidnapped by the Islamist militants.
The Nusra Front and ISIS hold a total of 25 Lebanese servicemen hostage in the outskirts of Arsal.
The funeral convoy departed Beirut at 10 a.m., according to an Army statement. After traveling to Hawsh Snid, it headed to the Sayyeda Khawla Shrine in Baalbek.
After two stops for friends and family to say their goodbyes, Ali was laid to rest at 5 p.m. at his Baalbek district hometown of Khreibeh.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 11, 2015, on page 3.