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Arsal Deal: Facilitated by Lebanon, Obstructed by Nusra | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A bus driver takes a rest in Jroud Arsal, Syria-Lebanon border, August 1, 2017. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

Beirut: Efforts exerted by the Lebanese authorities to ease the implementation of the second phase of an agreement between “Hezbollah” and “al-Nusra Front” did not succeed in removing the obstacles hindering the release of Lebanese hostages held by the militant group in exchange of the evacuation of militants and thousands of civilians to northern Syria.

Nusra placed new barriers, pushing Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon’s General Security, to reject the group’s new conditions for affecting the country’s sovereignty.

“Those whose release I am currently negotiating are Lebanese, regardless of which party they belong to, and we will accept the terms that suit our dignity and national sovereignty,” Ibrahim said in remarks during his visit to Labwe on Tuesday.

Lebanon’s LBCI television channel said the agreement between “Hezbollah” and “Nusra” was currently facing some difficulties, although the logistic and security measures for completing the evacuation of the armed militants and their families from Asral were already ready.

For its part, Al-Mayadeen channel quoted sources as saying that “if Nusra continues to use its blackmailing policy, then the rhetoric of military power will be again applied.”

On Tuesday night, NBN channel quoted sources close to the matter as saying that “negotiations related to the evacuation of militias and civilians from Jurud Asral stalled, while things returned to square one.”

It said one of the conditions that obstructed the negotiations is Nusra’s demand to evacuate Shadi al-Mulawi and his group from Ain al-Hilwe camp.

Earlier, Ibrahim said the negotiations between “Hezbollah” and “Nusra Front” were thorough and intricate, adding that they might end within hours.

Ibrahim also confirmed he was backed by all the political parties in his mission, and that he sought to keep details of the swap deal confidential.

“The goal of the negotiations is a noble and humanitarian one. Hezbollah is a Lebanese party and those we are trying to free are Lebanese as well,” he stressed.