Lebanese hostages in Syria "safe"

Relatives of Lebanese pilgrims that were abducted in Syria burn tires and block the main road leading to Beirut airport (Photo: Reuters – Khalil Hassan)

Published Thursday, August 16, 2012

Updated 12:30pm: The 11 kidnapped Lebanese pilgrims in Syria are "safe," Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman told reporters prior to a national dialogue meeting on Thursday.

The confirmation echoes earlier comments by Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, who said that the 11 kidnapped Lebanese pilgrims in Syria were all "safe and well."

Speaking to al-Nour radio, Mansour said that he had been in contact with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who told his Lebanese counterpart that "information being circulated yesterday was untrue."

A Syrian airstrike hit the northern village of Aazaz on Wednesday, where the hostages were being held.

A rebel commander said seven hostages were wounded, while four were missing.

"The building they (the hostages) were in was hit...We were able to remove seven from the wreckage. They are wounded, and some of the injuries are serious," rebel commander Ahmed Ghazali told the Lebanese TV channel al-Jadeed on Wednesday.

"Four more of them are still missing and we are continuing search and rescue operations. We pray to God that they will still be alive."

The report was carried by most Lebanese media outlets, prompting the relatives of the hostages to stage protests last night, burning tires, and blocking the road to Beirut international airport.

The roads have since been opened by the Lebanese army.

Al-Manar television, affiliated to Hezbollah, disputed the claim, reporting last night that all 11 were safe, but this was not confirmed by Lebanon's foreign ministry until Thursday morning.

(Al-Akhbar, Reuters, NNA)

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