Al Qaeda’s Syrian wing, the Nusra Front, has released 16 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held captive considering that 2014 in a Qatari-mediated deal.
In exchange, the Nusra Front received aid, as effectively as 13 prisoners, including Saja al-Dulaimi, the ex-wife of Islamic State (IS) jihadist group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and her youngsters.
The exchange brought a partial finish to a hostage crisis that has haunted Lebanon for over a year.
The Nusra Front seized the Lebanese during an attack on the border town of Arsal in August 2014 mounted with each other with IS — which is nevertheless believed to be holding nine soldiers captured in the incursion.
Live Television footage from the border area amongst Lebanon and Syria showed the Lebanese captives in autos accompanied by masked males armed with assault rifles and waving the Nusra Front flag prior to they have been released to the Red Cross.
Dulaimi, fully veiled, was shown in live Television footage from the area with her three children who have been with her in prison.
Nusra Front fighters were shown kissing and hugging the sons of Dulaimi, who was arrested by the Lebanese authorities a year ago.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, she said her want was to return to Beirut and then to leave to Turkey.
“We accomplished the whole agreement with Nusra. We received our heroic soldiers and we are on our way back to Beirut,” prime Lebanese safety official Abbas Ibrahim, who oversaw the swap, told Reuters by telephone.
“This joy not complete till the return of those kidnapped by Daesh (IS). We are ready to negotiate with Daesh if we find an individual to negotiate with,” he stated.
The Nusra Front fighters chanted “God is great” as they arrived with the captives in preparation for the swap.
One of the captives, interviewed by Al Jazeera, said the group had treated them properly. Even so Nusra is stated to have killed four of the original captives.
The exchange started with the Nusra Front releasing the physique of a single of the Lebanese soldiers it had killed in captivity, Mohamed Hamieh.
Qatar has been involved in efforts to mediate the release of the captives for a year or much more.
A prior effort to secure their release broke down a year ago, after 1 of the captives was killed.
Subjects: unrest-conflict-and-war, prisons-and-punishment, terrorism, lebanon, syrian-arab-republic