Negotiations overseen by General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim in Qatar to release Lebanese soldiers and policemen kidnapped by jihadists have made a “slow progress,” highly-informed sources said.
They said Ibrahim met with the head of the Qatari Intelligence agency, Ghanim al-Kbaisi, and Turkey’s intelligence chief Hakan Fidan to agree on the framework of the mediation aimed at releasing the captives.
A Syrian official tasked by Qatar with directly negotiating with the militants is expected to return to the northeastern border town of Arsal to meet with Islamic State group and al-Nusra Front representatives to hear their demands.
The militants overran Arsal in August and engaged in heavy clashes with the Lebanese army. During their withdrawal, they took with them hostages from the military and the Internal Security Forces.
They later beheaded two of them.
On Tuesday, gunmen crossed the border from Syria and kidnapped a soldier from his parents’ farm on the outskirts Arsal.
The IS also threatened to behead another soldier over what it described as the Lebanese government’s “lies” and “procrastination” in the negotiations over the abducted troops.
There are conflicting reports on the demands of the militants. But a request to release accused Islamic militants from Lebanese detention and the withdrawal of Hizbullah fighters from Syria are among them.
As Safir quoted sources as saying that some of the demands are “acceptable” and the Lebanese authorities could meet them to secure the release of the captives.
But others are “complicated,” they added, without giving further details.