Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lebanon drawn into Syrian crisis with tit-for-tat kidnappings

BEIRUT — Enraged Lebanese clansmen attempting to win the release of a relative they say is being held by rebels in Syria kidnapped as many as 40 Syrians with alleged ties to the rebel Free Syrian Army on Wednesday. It is one of the clearest signs yet that the conflict in Syria is spilling over its borders and destabilizing its neighbors.

The abduction of the Syrian men and a Turkish national in Lebanon came just a day after an Internet video was circulated showing Hassan al-Meqdad, a Lebanese citizen, being interrogated by a Syrian rebel while three gunmen stand behind him. In the video, Meqdad says he is a sniper who was sent to Syria by the Lebanese Hezbollah movement as part of a group of 1,500 fighters with instructions to help the Assad government.

Hezbollah issued a statement Tuesday denying that Meqdad was a member. Meanwhile, Col. Malik Kurdi, a deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army, said he could not confirm whether Meqdad was being held by FSA fighters or members of another armed group in Syria. Read More