Report: Nusra Front to Keep Shia Hostages in Custody to Use as Pressure Tool

SHAFAQNA – The al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front will reportedly keep the Shiite Lebanese hostages it had kidnapped last month in the northeastern border town of Arsal, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday. Sources told the newspaper that jihadists will soon free Sunni, Christian and Druze abductees but will keep the Shiites in their custody. “They want to use them as a pressure tool,” the sources said. For his part, Sheikh Moustapha al-Hujeiri also known as Abou Taqiye, who is familiar with the case of the abducted soldiers and policemen, stressed that he will not “stop his endeavors until all soldiers are released without any exception.” On Sunday, al-Nusra Front threatened to “kill the Shiite Lebanese soldiers” it had kidnapped should Hizbullah intervene in battles in Syria’s al-Qalamun region.

Hizbullah has been taking part in the fighting in Syria to aid President Bashar Assad’s troops. The Syrian forces alongside the Shiite group have seized control of al-Qalamun in April. Judicial sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper that a high-level security meeting, held at the Grand Serail on Sunday, was briefed on the cases of the Islamist prisoners held at Roumieh prison. The sources said that 66.6 percent of the trial procedures have been carried out, pointing out that the sentences will be issued soon and those who are innocent will be acquitted. On several occasions, the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant vowed to free Islamist prisoners in Roumieh. Islamist gunmen had kidnapped a number of Lebanese soldiers and security forces from Arsal in light of clashes between Islamists and the army in the region. The battles began on August 2 and ended five days later.




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