Lebanon News

Mothers of ISIS-held hostages block northeastern Lebanon road

Mothers and relatives of the servicemen held by ISIS block the entrance of the northeastern border town of Arsal, Monday, March 21, 2016. (The Daily Star/ Nidal Solh)

BEIRUT: Mothers of ISIS-held Lebanese soldiers Monday briefly blocked a road at the entrance of a northeastern border town to mark Mother's Day.

The state-run National News Agency reported that a number of the captives' mothers and relatives arrived at Ain al-Shaab checkpoint, at the entrance of the town of Arsal, to protest against what they say is the state's negligence in following up on their loved ones.

The anguished mothers sat on the asphalt, holding pictures of their sons.

A Lebanese Army unit arrived swiftly at the scene to reopen the road and a debate erupted between soldiers and a mother who accused the military of failing to act while captive soldiers were still in Arsal.

Hussein Youssef, father of captive soldier Mohammad Youssef, called on Lebanese state and security officials to work swiftly on behalf of the captives.

Thirty-seven soldiers were kidnapped in August 2014 when ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front briefly overran Lebanon’s border town of Arsal.

Eight servicemen were later released and four were killed.

In a deal negotiated by Qatari officials, the Nusra freed 16 servicemen in exchange for Islamist prisoners last December, leaving nine servicemen in the custody of ISIS.

The families of the captive men accuse the government of being irresponsible, and warned last month that they will escalate their actions in order to press the release of the soldiers.

 

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