The Lebanese government begins the prisoner exchange with Al Nusra Front in return for soldiers and policemen in Arsal, the town bordering Syria, a senior security official of Lebanon told AA.
17 Lebanese soldiers were abducted in August last year by the Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, after a five day conflict in Arsal.
The official said that they initiated the exchange process of the soldiers with a group of Al Nusra members held in Lebanon’s prisons.
6 hostages that DAESH holds captive, will not be included in the exchange, he said.
The number of prisoners who will be exchanged is not known yet.
Families of the abducted soldiers claimed earlier that Al Nusra demands al-Maara and Fulayta frontier villages of Syria and the release of its members -five of whom are women- held in Lebanon’s prisons in return for the Lebanese soldiers it holds.
In July, Al Nusra offered to release three Lebanese soldiers in exchange for an ex-wife of the DAESH’s leader and four other female prisoners, according to Al Arabiya News.
“If five of our sisters leave prison... we will hand over three soldiers in exchange,” said Abu Malek al-Shami, Al-Nusra’s “emir” in Qalamun, the Syrian region bordering Lebanon.
Al-Nusra has repeatedly made demands for the soldiers’ release in return for its prisoners or the withdrawal of Hezbollah, Lebanese Shiite group backed by Iran, from Syria.