Lebanon and Nusra Front prisoner swap 'may be imminent'

Lebanon and Nusra Front prisoner swap 'may be imminent'
2 min read
27 November, 2015
Reports are emerging from Lebanon that more than a dozen Lebanese army soldiers held hostage by al-Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front could be swapped with jihadist detainees held by the Lebanese authorities.
More than a dozen Lebanese soldiers are being held hostage in Syria [AFP]
A group of nine Islamist detainees have on Friday been quietly transferred from the country's notorious Roumieh central prison early to an "undisclosed location".

All indications suggest this could be a sign that a prisoner swap is imminent with the Nusra Front, a Syrian insurgent group and al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Nusra Front has been holding several Lebanese soldiers hostage since August 2014, captured in the restive Lebanese border town of Arsal during a raid.

The Islamist detainees include eight Syrian nationals and one Lebanese close to the Nusra Front, detained on terror-
related charges and other offences.

Sources close to Prime Minister Tammam Salam confirmed to al-Araby al-Jadeed Arabic that there had been serious developments in the case involving 16 abducted soldiers held by Nusra.

However, the sources refused to disclose any details.

Mediators previously involved in negotiations said the Nusra Front had refused to comment on the new information.

Meanwhile, al-Araby al-Jadeed Arabic's sources in Beirut say the swap is likely to include Suja al-Dulaimi and Ola al-Akili.

Dulaimi is a former wife of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and a sister of a key leader in the Nusra Front.

Akili, meanwhile, is a wife of Anas Sharkas, another Nusra leader. The two women were detained along with their children after the Nusra Front and IS kidnapped the Lebanese soldiers, and the move was seen by many as an attempt by the Lebanese authorities to use them as a bargaining chip.

It is worth noting that Prime Minister Tammam Salam has reportedly postponed a visit to Paris scheduled for Sunday, and called for a meeting on Saturday morning at the government headquarters.

On Thursday, the Lebanese army intelligence service arrested an alleged bombmaker affiliated to the Nusra Front, named as Ali Ahmad Lakkis. Lakkis was attempting to leave Lebanon on a fake passport.

The man reportedly confessed to killing Mohammad Hamieh, one of the Lebanese army hostages held by the Nusra Front.