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Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief Riad al-Asaad condemned on Wednesday the kidnapping of Lebanese pilgrims in Aleppo and revealed that an investigation committee was formed in order to tackle the case, according to a report by the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper.

In an interview to be published on Thursday Asaad said “Mafias kidnapped the pilgrims and we will risk our life to liberate them.”

He added that the Free Syrian Army has information that the “recently formed financial mafias” are behind the abduction, stressing: “We will play a role in their release.”

“A group of bandits who have taken up a base along the border with Turkey abducted the pilgrims and blamed the Free Syrian Army for it,” he explained.

“The FSA rejects such operations that put people’s lives in jeopardy,” he declared.

“Several sides are exploiting the developments in Syria in order to tarnish our image and that of the revolution,” noted Asaad.

He revealed that the FSA succeeded in determining the location of the captives.

“Our main goal lies in defending the Syrian people and revolt,” he stressed.

Similarly the head of the higher military council of the Free Syrian army Brigadier General Mustafa Sheikh told Al Sharq al Awsat newspaper in remarks published on Wednesday that his group has nothing to with the abduction of the Lebanese pilgrims in Syria, emphasizing that he found out about this through communication with mediators from Lebanon who asked him to mediate in the release of the hostages.

The 13 Lebanese were kidnapped as they headed home to Lebanon from pilgrimage in Iran. Several dozen women who were part of the kidnapped group arrived in Beirut early Wednesday after being freed by their captors. Television video showed the women being greeted by relatives as they arrived at the airport.

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