Families of soldiers held by extremists plan Lebanon protest

Families of soldiers held by extremists plan Lebanon protest
The families of the soldiers held hostage by Jihadi groups in Lebanon are planning a nationwide protest to draw the government’s attention to its failure to free their relatives.
2 min read
01 July, 2015
Families of the captive soldiers staged a sit-in at Lebanon's governmental palace [Getty]
Families of the soldiers being held hostage in Lebanon by the Jihadi groups plan to block key roads across the country tomorrow to protest the government’s failure to secure their release.

The 25 soldiers have been held by the Islamic State group (IS) and the Nusra Front since clashes around the Northern Lebanese town of Arsal last August, Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reported.

Their protest will happen during the first meeting of the cabinet held in a month, in the middle of a year-long political crisis in Lebanon that has seen the repeated failure of the country to elect a president.

Seif Zebian, the brother of one of the soldiers said on Tuesday that blocking most of the country's "vital roads" during the cabinet session would capture the ministers' attention, the Daily Star reported.

The 25 soldiers have been held since clashes with the IS and the Nusra Front last August.
The protest was reportedly sparked by rumours the IS killed the rest of its hostages. It has also been rumoured that the hostages have been moved across the porous border into rebel-held areas of Syria.

The IS is holding nine of the hostages, the Nusra Front 16. Nusra has already released eight other hostages and shot two, while the Islamic State has beheaded two.

The soldiers were taken hostage during clashes last August, when the IS and the Nusra Front attacked Lebanese army positions near Arsal and attempted to take control of the town itself after Lebanese security forces arrested a Nusra Front commander.

The five-day battle claimed the lives of 18 soldiers, 60 militants and 42 civilians. A total of 37 soldiers were also taken captive.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese army announced it on Wednesday it had ambushed a group of Nusra Front fighters in the Arsal region, killing five, according to Naharnet.

The army also announced it has arrested a Lebanese man near Arsal for trying to smuggle a Syrian, later identified to be a terrorist, into the country.