Hostages exchanged at Lebanon-Syria border


Gunmen freed six Syrians and a Lebanese on Tuesday, following the release of another Lebanese man kidnapped in the same region, a security official told AFP.

The day before, a Lebanese captured by the same gunmen was released in a conciliatory gesture to start the hostage exchange process.

The tit-for-tat abductions occurred on Sunday in the Wadi Khaled area on the border between the two countries, where tensions have been running high between supporters and opponents of the regime in Syria.

Security officials said unidentified gunmen first kidnapped Suleiman al-Ahmed, , who allegedly opposes the Syrian regime, in the village of Massudiyeh, which has a large Alawite community, followers of the same sect as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Afterwards, gunmen abducted six Syrian Alawites in the Wadi Khaled area and later a Lebanese Shiite was also seized, the sources added.

The security official said that Syrian authorities handed over Ahmed to Lebanese military intelligence on Tuesday, after which he was escorted through the eastern border crossing at Al-Masnaa to his family in Lebanon.

A series of kidnappings of Lebanese and Syrians have occurred in Wadi Khaled, which hosts thousands of Syrian refugees who have fled the bloody crackdown in their homeland.

The opposition Syrian National Council has repeatedly accused the Damascus regime of breaching the border with Lebanon and of launching attacks against both Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees.

Al Arabiya