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Lebanon President Michel Suleiman defended on Friday during the cabinet session at the Baabda palace the Syrian army’s violations of the Lebanese territory calling them unintentional.

“The violations that happened in some bordering regions with Syria were not intentional and have stopped,” Suleiman was quoted as saying by acting Information Minister Wael Abu Faour following the cabinet session.

Abu Faour also quoted Suleiman as saying that “according to security forces, no Syrian nationals have been abducted in Lebanon.”

Regarding the issue of Syrian national Shibli al-Ayssami and the Jassem brothers who remain missing , Suleiman said that the issue is in the “custody of the Lebanese judiciary,” Abu Faour added.

Kidnappings

Suleiman’s comments come after Bashar al-Ayssami, son of Syrian Baath Party co-founder Shibli al-Ayssami, said during an interview with Al-Jazeera television on Tuesday that his father is currently being held in Syria. Shibli al-Ayssami was abducted earlier this year in Aley, a summer resort town in Mount Lebanon.

Bashar al-Ayssami said his family “has confirmed information [retrieved] from witnesses [who saw the abduction taking place] and from people inside the Syrian regime, in addition to Lebanese officials, who have all said, unofficially, that my father was kidnapped in Lebanon [to serve the interest of the Syrian regime].”

“We are sure that he is in Syria,” Bashar al-Ayssami added.

Ya Libnan interviewed several people in Aley where Ayssami was abducted and where his daughter Raja Sharafeddine lives and all strongly believe that Hezbollah arranged the kidnapping and delivered him to Syria . Hezbollah currently dominates the current cabinet which is headed by PM Nagib Mikati

Shibli al-Ayssami was kidnapped on May 24, two months after the breakout of widespread anti-regime protests in Syria that has elicited a violent government crackdown on dissent.

Other Syrian nationals have also been kidnapped in Lebanon. On October 11, Al-Jumhuriya newspaper reported that Internal Security Forces chief Achraf Rifi told the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee that “members of the Lebanese security forces assigned to protect the Syrian embassy in Lebanon kidnapped Syrians using embassy vehicles.”

In March, Syrian National Jassem Merii al-Jassem and his three brothers Chedid, Ahmad and Ali were abducted in Lebanon.

The Syrian National Council said on Sunday that there are 13 cases of “abductions” of Syrian opposition figures in Lebanon.

Border violations

A growing number of cross-border incursions by Syrian troops into Lebanese territory has aggravated political rivalries in Lebanon between those who oppose the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and those who support it.

Since the beginning of October, Syrian soldiers have penetrated Sunni-populated areas along Lebanon’s remote and poorly marked eastern border on a number of occasions, reportedly killing and abducting several people.

Lebanon has long lived under Syria’s shadow and is more vulnerable to interference as the Assad regime pursues its crackdown on the Syrian opposition, elements of which have begun to arm themselves and fight back.

“People here have grown used to Syrian violations, but what is worrying us is a large operation by the Syrians in Arsal. We are almost positive it is going to happen,” says Ali Hojeiry, the mayor of Arsal, a town of 40,000 Sunnis tucked into barren mountains along Lebanon’s eastern frontier with Syria.

Last October , Syrian troops backed by tanks attacked isolated buildings six miles east of Arsal, where farmers cultivate orchards of almonds, apricots, and pears. Days later, a Syrian national was killed on Lebanese soil near Arsal.

Since then there have been further incursions reported elsewhere along the border.

The Arab League voted today to suspend Syria’s membership , but as expected Lebanon voted against the suspension .”Suleiman’s defense of the border violations and abductions and today’s vote prove that Syria is back in the driver’s seat in Lebanon” , one observer told Ya Libnan on Saturday adding ” shame on Lebanon after being liberated in 2005 by the Cedar Revolution”

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