Freed Lebanese soldier Ibrahim Shaaban revealed that his colleague Ali al-Sayyed, who was reportedly beheaded by Islamist militants, was still alive and well , several media sources reported on Sunday
As soon as Shaaban told Sayyed’s parents the good news, celebratory gunfire was heard in the town of Fneideq, from which Sayyed hails, as the news of him not having been beheaded spread.
Conflicting reports surfaced on Saturday over the validity of images that spread lately on social media showing Sayyed being beheaded by an alleged Islamic State militant calling himself Abu Musaab Hafid al-Baghdadi.
Security sources questioned, in comments published in the al-Hayat daily on Saturday, the validity of the pictures, estimating that the beheaded man is not soldier Ali al-Sayyed.
On Thursday, al-Baghdadi posted pictures on his Twitter account that show him cutting off the head of a blindfolded man with a medium beard.
Earlier this month, several Syrian groups, including Islamic State and Nusra Front battled the Lebanese army after the arrest of rebel commander Emad Gomaa in the border town of Arsal. Gomaa is a Nusra commander who switched affiliation to Islamic State but remained popular among Nusra fighters.
The militants seized Arsal for five days before withdrawing to a mountainous border region, taking the 19 captive soldiers with them.
Most of the soldiers were taken by Islamic State militants while Nusra kept a few soldiers and a number of policemen.
On Saturday, Nusra released four soldiers and a policeman, all Sunnis, a source close to the group said. The circumstances of their release were not immediately clear.
The militants have demanded the release of Gomaa and several Islamists jailed since a 2007 insurrection by an al Qaeda-inspired group at a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon.