Report: Qatari Delegation in Arsal to Negotiate Release of Captives

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A Qatari delegation arrived in Lebanon and headed to the northeastern border town of Arsal to meet with the Islamist gunmen, media reports said on Friday.

The delegation will reportedly head to the Syrian Qalamun border region to negotiate with gunmen the release of abducted Lebanese soldiers and policemen, who were taken hostage last month after militiamen overran Arsal.

Since the abduction of Lebanese soldiers and policemen, Lebanon has been reportedly seeking the help of Qatar and Turkey to ensure their safe release.

The militants released several hostages in different stages but had beheaded Lebanese army sergeant Ali al-Sayyed.

The militants included fighters from the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

The jihadists have reportedly called on the Lebanese government to release Islamist inmates from the country’s largest prison in Roumieh in exchange for the captive security personnel.

Only a few of the estimated 90 Islamists have been tried. Most of them were arrested over their involvement in bloody clashes with the Lebanese army at the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in 2007.

The fighting in Arsal was the most serious border incident since the conflict in Syria began in March 2011.

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