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Lebanon: Relatives of ISIS Hostages Warn they Would Escalate Protests | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Families of Lebanese soldiers held hostage by ISIS protest in Riad al-Solh Square, Beirut, Sunday, July 31, 2016. NNA

Beirut-The families of nine Lebanese soldiers taken captive by ISIS have hinted that they would take escalatory measures and resume protests, which have led to road closures in the past, if the Lebanese government did not reveal any new information on the fate of their loved ones.

“It is prohibited for the state from now on to say we have nothing new” on the case, the families said Sunday.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam saluted the servicemen taken hostage by terrorist organizations on the occasion of Army Day.

He stressed that the Lebanese state, with all its institutions, will exert all efforts to end the tragedy, the same way it succeeded in setting free the first batch of soldiers, who had been taken captive by terrorists.

The troops were held by ISIS in August 2, 2014 when the group and al-Nusra Front launched an attack on the town of Arsal that lies on the eastern border with Syria.

The clashes that ensued left 25 soldiers dead. Al-Nusra Front released last December the 16 servicemen whom it had taken captive in a swap with the Lebanese government.

But there is no information on the hostages taken by ISIS amid speculation that the terrorist organization has transported them from Arsal’s outskirts to its stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.

The families of the captives held on Sunday a protest in downtown Beirut’s Riad al-Solh square to bring back their case to the spotlight.

Hussein Youssef said on behalf of the families: “We have not heard anything from our government to appease us or comfort us.”

The authorities “should find a way to bring them back,” he said.

Youssef also appealed to Army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji to work for the release of the captives.

“Why is the crisis committee not meeting? Has the crisis ended?” said Nizam Mgheit, whose brother is one of the kidnapped.

He warned that the families would escalate their protests by blocking roads again if the government remained unresponsive, accusing officials of neglecting their case.