The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Al-Nusra Front urges Lebanon to negotiate for captive troops


Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate called on the Lebanese authorities Saturday to discuss its terms for the release of dozens of captive troops, after three of them were executed.

Al-Nusra Front killed one of the around 30 soldiers and police Syrian rebels captured in fighting in a Lebanese town near the Syrian border last month. Rival jihadists of the Islamic State group beheaded the other two.

In a video posted on YouTube, Al-Nusra accused Lebanese authorities of allowing its Shiite Muslim foe Hezbollah, which has been heavily involved in the civil war in neighboring Syria, to block negotiations for the soldiers’ release

Hezbollah “is causing all attempts to negotiate the release of the Lebanese hostages to fail,” the video charges.

Al-Nusra has previously demanded that in return for the release of the captive soldiers, Hezbollah end its intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and that Lebanon free jailed Islamists.

The Lebanese government has so far rejected the Al-Qaeda affiliate’s terms.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has urged the government not to cave in to the Sunni extremists’ demands but has denied impeding efforts to free the captive troops.

Last month’s fighting in the border town of Arsal — a Sunni enclave within the mainly Shiite Hezbollah-dominated Bekaa Valley border region — was the most serious in Lebanon since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011.