Doqmaq Says Abducted Pilgrims near Turkish-Syrian Border, Developments Postponed their Release

Posted on: May 27, 2012 at 01:00
The 11 Lebanese pilgrims abducted in Aleppo are in a good condition and will be released by tomorrow night, spokesman of the Syrian al-Ahrar party Naser Doqmaq revealed on Saturday.

“The abducted Lebanese are in a good condition but the latest developments in Syria postponed their release,” Doqmaq said in statement.

According to LBC, the statement said that the Syrian regime “hopes that one of the abducted Lebanese would be killed before the release happens in order to create sedition between Hizbullah and the rebels (in Syria).”

Doqmaq later told the channel that he doesn’t “know the side that abducted the pilgrims.”

He pointed out that “the Turkish authorities, Hizbullah and the Syrian regime are familiar with the ongoing negotiations and our task is to facilitate the release of the Lebanese pilgrims.”

Doqmaq noted that the kidnapped men are near the Turkish border and are expected to be released by tomorrow night if the “Syrian regime didn’t obstruct the process.”

“We contacted the side that abducted the pilgrims an hour ago,” he stated.

Doqmaq revealed that a “senior Lebanese official is playing an important role” to help release the 11 men.

Later, the Syrian al-Ahrar party’s secretary general brahim al-Zouebi, who is currently in Saudi Arabia, told al-Jadeed channel “the abductors were discouraged by the statements of Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah.”

“We declare that we aren’t linked anymore to the case of the abducted pilgrims and we demand Nasrallah to assume the task,” he said.

The 11 pilgrims, who were snatched in northern Syria earlier this week, were reported as having arrived in Turkey on Friday.

Doubts about the pilgrims' whereabouts first emerged when Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said the group's return to Lebanon had been delayed over ''logistics''.

''They are well but there is a delay due to logistical problems,'' Charbel said, adding: ''Maybe they are being debriefed (by Turkish authorities).''

But an Istanbul-based member of the opposition Syrian National Council said he had information indicating that the pilgrims had never entered Turkey.

''As far as we know, the Lebanese abductees have not entered Turkey, as of noon Saturday,'' he said, asking not to be identified.

Lebanon's state news agency NNA said Tuesday the 13 had been abducted in northern Syria as they made their way home from a pilgrimage in Iran and accused the rebel Free Syrian Army of having kidnapped them.

But the rebel army denied the claim and said it was making ''every effort'' to locate and release the pilgrims.

The abduction followed deadly clashes in Lebanon between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, amid fears that the crisis in Syria would spill over into Lebanon.

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