Nusra denies finalising swap deal with Lebanon

Nusra Front denies ending negotiations with Lebanese security about releasing Lebanese hostages

Photo by: Lebanese hostages
Photo by: Lebanese hostages

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Al Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front on Wednesday denied finalising negotiations about releasing Lebanese hostages they captured last year in a statement on their Twitter account.

“We would like to clarify that there is no truth to media reports that negotiations between us and General Security secretary-general Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim have ended,” Nusra Front tweeted, addressing the hostages’ families.

“Negotiations were suspended a while ago due to the many manipulations in this issue by the negotiators from the Lebanese side,” Nusra Front added.

Speaking on Monday, Gen. Ibrahim said, “The issue is over. We are waiting for a date to be set by the envoy of Qatar [to implement the deal],” referring to the Qatari envoy who mediated the negotiations between Nusra Front and the Lebanese government.

The Nusra Front's tweet comes after Gen. Ibrahim confirmed on Monday the finalising of negotiations for an imminent swap deal to secure the release of the 25 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held hostage by the Nusra Front.

In August 2014, Nusra Front fighters attacked Arsal, a district near the Lebanese-Syrian border, and captured Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and other policemen.

Meanwhile, the Hezbollah fighters seized three hilltops in Qalamoun on the Syrian-Lebanese border, the Hezbollah-run al Manar TV channel reported on Wednesday.

“Hezbollah fighters captured three hilltop positions to the north of the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal along an eastern mountain range," a source told the Lebanese Daily Star.

The Hezbollah fighters are now advancing toward the strategic Jabal Zaroub south of Wadi al-Khayl [in Qalamoun], according to al Manar TV.

Last month, Hezbollah fighters alongside the Syrian army attacked Nusra Front positions in Qalamoun and forced them to retreat towards the outskirts of Arsal in Lebanon.

TRTWorld and agencies