Captured troops' families reopen eastern Lebanon road

The families took their protest to outside government headquarters in the heart of Lebanese capital Beirut

Captured troops' families reopen eastern Lebanon road

World Bulletin/News Desk

The families of captured Lebanese troops held by Syrian militants since early September on Wednesday reopened a road in eastern Lebanon after blocking it for 16 days to protest the soldiers' abduction.

They also took their protest to outside government headquarters in the heart of Lebanese capital Beirut.

In early September, several Lebanese troops were captured by Syrian militants who clashed with the Lebanese army in the eastern Lebanese town of Arsal.

Along with revealing Lebanon's vulnerability to ongoing turmoil in next-door Syria, the crisis of the captured troops remains unresolved – despite mediation efforts by Lebanese religious clerics and the Qatari government.

The armed groups holding the soldiers want Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria, where it is fighting alongside Syrian government troops.

On Wednesday, relatives of the kidnapped troops took their anger to the Riad al-Solh court outside government headquarters in Beirut.

They set up several tents in the court outside the government building and held photos of their captured relatives, an Anadolu Agency reporter said.

The father of one captured soldier said he and fellow demonstrators had decided to move their protest to the center of Beirut so as not to inconvenience ordinary Lebanese.

"We have caused problems for ordinary people for 16 days by blocking the road," Hamza Hems, the father of a captured Lebanese soldier, said.

"We hope our presence near this decision-making center [government HQ] will lead to some change," he told AA.

In exchange for the soldiers' release, the Syrian militants holding them say the Lebanese government must release certain leaders from Lebanese jails.

Some Lebanese cabinet members, however, oppose the notion of a prisoner swap. Others, however, especially those who back the Syrian uprising, support the idea.

Layal al-Derani, the sister of captured soldier Suleiman al-Derani, said her presence near the cabinet building – and that of other captured soldiers' relatives – would lead to better communication with the government.

"The families [of captured soldiers] will continue to escalate [their protests] in order to secure the lives of their loved ones and ensure that their demands are met," al-Derani told AA.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Ekim 2014, 09:49