SHAFAQNA – Imad Ayyad, a Hezbollah fighter captured by the rebel Free Syrian Armylast month, was freed Tuesday in exchange for two rebels held by Hezbollah, the party said in a statement.Al-Jadeed identified the rebels as Merhi Merhi and Morhef al-Rayess.
“After negotiations that lasted weeks with the kidnappers, the captive Imad Ayyad was freed,” a Hezbollah statement said Tuesday.
According to the statement, the hostage, 24, was freed as a result of a swap deal that secured the release of two militant captives. The statement also expressed hope that all Lebanese soldiers and police being held by jihadi militants on the outskirts of Arsal would be freed soon.
Ayyad was held by the Free Syrian Army branch known as the QalamounGathering.
One of the group’s commanders, Abdullah Rifai, was detained earlier this month by the Lebanese Army after entering the country illegally. A military judge last week ordered Rifai to be released.
The Qalamoun Gathering said over a month ago that it had detained one of Hezbollah’s fighters. It also released a video on YouTube which it showed both the captive and his identification card.
FSA commander Bassil Idriss confirmed to The Daily Star Tuesday that the hostage was abducted by its Qalamoun Gathering affiliate.