Lebanese relatives identify Free Syrian Army kidnappers on TV
Published Wednesday, June 6, 2012
The wives and daughters of Lebanese Shia pilgrims kidnapped in northern Syria identified two of the kidnappers on Tuesday after seeing them in a television report about the Free Syrian Army on television.
The Lebanese Broadcasting Corp reported that several women, part of a group of pilgrims kidnapped in Syria and released without their male relatives, contacted it after seeing their kidnappers faces on a Monday broadcast.
The report featured men who identified themselves as members of the FSA.
LBC said the women had claimed that "the men on the broadcast were the ones who kidnapped their men."
The women appeared on the channel Tuesday evening to confirm what they had said.
One of them identified the gunmen from the previous night's report, saying "this man went with us to the bus," and pointing out another man who was "carrying rocket launchers on his shoulder and blocked the road" for the bus.
"They told us when we boarded the bus: 'We are the Free (Syrian) Army. We do not want to hurt anyone. Some of our men are being held by the Syrian army and we want to exchange them for your men.'"
The kidnappers released the women and elderly men and kept 11 men in their custody.
The whereabouts and fate of those kidnapped is still unclear.
"When we said that the Free Syrian Army carried out the kidnapping it was denied. They cannot deny anymore. This video broadcast is the proof," the woman said.
"We hold the Free Syrian Army in Turkey and Syria responsible for the security of young people," she added.
"May God Almighty expose them (...) They have to release them immediately."
The FSA has denied any involvement in the kidnapping that took place shortly after the pilgrims' bus cross the Turkish border into Syrian territory in the northern province of Aleppo.
But the FSA is divided into an unknown number of separate factions, each pertaining to be the authentic rebel group.
"How could the kidnappers appear to the public and reveal themselves? Was it an intentional error," the woman asked.
Referring to the presence of the FSA members on Turkish soil, she demanded: "What is the responsibility of the Turkish state in this matter?"
Turkey is harboring armed Syrian rebels as well as political opposition groups to President Bashar Assad, and the presence of the kidnappers on Turkish soil raises questions about Ankara's complicity in the kidnappings.
A previously unknown armed group calling itself the "Syrian Revolutionaries – Aleppo Province" said last week it was holding a group of Lebanese Shia pilgrims who went missing.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has urged the captors to release the men.