SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front on Tuesday threatened to execute a Lebanese soldier in its custody, complaining that negotiations for their release were taking too long.
The jihadist group tweeted a picture allegedly showing a Lebanese soldier it identified as Mohammed Maarouf Hamieh, one of 18 security forces members being held by Nusra on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Ersal.
Another nine soldiers and police are being held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“Maybe Mohammed Maarouf Hamieh will be the first to pay the price” over stalled negotiations with the Lebanese government to release the soldiers, text alongside the photo read.
The group earlier this month released a 27-minute-long video titled “who will pay the price” showing nine of the captured soldiers pleading for Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria in exchange for their release.
Hamieh would be the first captive to be executed by Nusra if it goes through with the threat. ISIS has executed two Lebanese soldiers, and returned the body of one.
In addition to withdrawal of Hezbollah fighters from Syria, the group is also calling for Syrian refugees in Lebanon to be relocated to Turkey, a source familiar with the negotiations recently told Al-Akhbar.
Al-Nusra Front’s demands “are not unattainable as the Lebanese government claims,” the statement added.
But they realized that “negotiations have reached a dead end” after “we heard statements today saying that [they] could take a month or two.”
It was unclear what statement the group was referring to, but Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Sunday said that negotiations, which are being mediated by Qatar, were still in their initial stages.
The group said it was also dismayed by “the systematic crackdown on Syrian refugees in Lebanon and on the Ersal border” by the Lebanese army “which is controlled by Iran’s party,” in reference to Hezbollah.
The text ended by saying: “Don’t blame us, because enough is enough.”
More than 30 soldiers and police were captured last month during a five-day battle with the jihadists in Ersal.
Nusra has since released five of them.
Hamieh’s family last month told Al-Akhbar that the 22-year-old had joined the army in early 2013 to escape the poverty of working as a farmer.
His 14-year-old sister described him as “gentle,” and said he had promised to buy her an iPad once he secured a bank loan.