Beirut seeks Turkish aid for pilgrims
BEIRUTLebanon asked Turkey yesterday to exert more efforts for the release of Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Aleppo in May 2012. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman made the request from Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Doha on the sidelines of the Arab League summit, Naharnet website reported.
Sleiman asked Davutoğlu “for Turkey to exert all efforts to release the nine Lebanese abductees in Syria.” Syrian opposition groups linked with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) kidnapped a group of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims traveling to Iran after they crossed into Syria from Turkey. Two pilgrims have been released thanks to the intervention of Turkish diplomats, however, nine are still being held hostage.
The abduction has raised tensions in Lebanon, a country divided between Shiites and Sunnis, who are at odds regarding the Syrian issue. It also triggered a wave of kidnappings and many Turkish citizens have openly been targeted by groups asking for the liberation of the abducted pilgrims.