Four relatives of the Lebanese pilgrims held by rebels in Syria’s Aazaz region have been summoned for investigation over their links to the abduction of the two Turkish pilots in Beirut last week, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Thursday.
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told the daily that they willingly complied with the judiciary’s summoning request.
Charbel also told the daily that their names were revealed by Mohammed Saleh, another relative of the pilgrims who was arrested on Sunday over his links to the pilots’ kidnapping.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned his Lebanese counterpart of “negative repercussions” should two pilots kidnapped last week not be freed, Lebanon’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The Turkish pilots were kidnapped last Friday by a group demanding Turkey use its influence with Syria’s rebels, who it backs, to secure the release of nine Lebanese Shiites kidnapped in Syria in May 2012.
A previously unknown group calling itself Zuwwar Imam al-Rida has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
It said Turkey was “directly responsible” for the nine Lebanese who went missing in Syria.
The families of the Lebanese pilgrims, who were returning from a trip to Iran when they were kidnapped, have called repeatedly for the release of their relatives.
They accuse Turkey of not doing enough to that end.
The pilots were kidnapped in a majority Shiite area of Beirut, controlled mainly by the powerful Lebanese movement Hezbollah, a close ally of President Bashar al-Assad.
Since Friday, Hezbollah’s Lebanese critics have repeatedly accused the Shiite group of covering up for the abduction.
Caretaker Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud warned Saturday that the abduction of two Turkish Airlines pilots will deal a blow to Lebanon’s tourism industry and could be the last nail in the coffin of the tourism sector.
“What happened could be the last nail in the coffin of the tourism sector,” Abboud told LBCI, adding that the incident would have an adverse effect on the tourism sector and harm the economy as a whole.
Photo: The Turkish Airlines pilots that were kidnapped : Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca