Nusra Front releases video of kidnapped Lebanese soldiers
Al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, released a video on Tuesday showing a number of Lebanese army soldiers captured in Arsal on the Lebanese-Syrian border last August.
The video, entitled A message from the Shia captives to their people, included messages from seven Shia soldiers to the Lebanese people, the Shia community, the soldiers' families, the defence minister, the army chief, Hizballah, and General Abbas Ibrahim, head of the General Security apparatus.
The kidnapped soldiers were recorded blaming General Ibrahim and Hizballah for a failure to negotiate and for their "false promises" to their families, without any action perceived on the ground. The latest of their shortcomings, said the soldiers, was a promise to have the soldiers released "within 10 days".
The soldiers also called on their families to "assign an honest negotiator, such as Wael Abu Faour, Walid Jumblatt, or Ashraf Rifi".
In addition, the soldiers warned against "Hizballah's attempt to push the Lebanese army into a battle in Qalamoun on Syrian territories", as this would result in "the death or imprisonment of the fighters".
They also warned the Lebanese army from becoming a "tool in the hands of Hizballah, which would put them at the frontline while shelling Syrian refugee camps in Arsal".
The Lebanese soldiers thanked Nusra for allowing four families to visit their sons outside Arsal in the past few weeks.
Some of them even compared how Nusra treated them with the treatment of Sunni prisoners in Lebanese prisons, where they are subjected to torture and humiliation.
In the 13-minute video, the soldiers appeared wearing thick sweatsuits. Some looked exhausted, while others smiled to the camera.
Al-Nusra and the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as Isis) had kidnapped a number of Lebanese soldiers following the battle of Arsal last August.
General Ibrahim is leading the negotiations to release them in exchange for Islamist prisoners held in Lebanese prisons.
The two groups killed four of the soldiers, while threatening to kill the others if the Lebanese government does not complete the prisoner swap deal.
This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.