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Protests of kidnapped soldiers' families turn desperate

BEIRUT | - October 31, 2014, 08h17
Par Sophie Spencer
Photo: National News Agency
Over the past few weeks we have witnessed the protests of families of kidnapped Lebanese soldiers become more and more serious... and desperate.
On Thursday the mother of a kidnapped soldier Khaled Moqbel tried to set herself on fire in protest at her son’s continued captivity. The woman was stopped by protesters at the last minute, before she was able to do herself any harm although she lost consciousness and was transferred to hospital.

This incident follows a wave of protests by the families of kidnapped soldiers with demands which have largely gone unanswered by politicians, and it shows that the families are getting more and more desperate.

Since soldiers were captured by Al-Nusra front in the beginning of August, the families of these soldiers have tried everything to gain attention and mobilise the government to do something to help their sons and brothers. The Qalamoun highway and other roads have been blocked numerous times by families as a means of raising awareness although these demonstrations have been cleared rapidly by security forces.

Despite politicians from all parties calling for an end to the soldiers captivity, 27 soldiers remained held hostage by al Nosra and ISIS on Monday, according to the Daily Star.

However, executions and threats to execute have become more and more frequent with al Nosra threatening to execute hostage Ali Bazzal on Monday in retaliation to the army’s crackdown against Islamists in Tripoli at the weekend.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has released a series of statements on the issue. "The kidnapped soldiers' issue is very sensitive and negotiations remain ongoing," Salam said in early October, adding, "The state fully sponsors the kidnapped military men and their families and refuses to sponsor terrorism. We hope not to lose the compass and to cooperate as one state, one media, and one family, in a bid to bolster a unified national stance."

One week ago, the families of kidnapped soldiers met with the Secretary General of the Supreme Defense Council, Mohammed Khair, and said that they had heard serious assurances about their sons’ case.

"We sensed serious way of dealing with our sons' dossier by the government," kidnapped troops' families said on emerging the meeting. Khair, for his part, urged families to end roadblocks. However, one week on, with a mother’s attempt to set herself on fire in protest, it seems assurances are not enough. This desperate act is a call for action.
#Hostages, #Lebanese_army, #Abducted_soldiers, #ISIS, #Al_Nusra_Front, #Syria
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