A mediation led by Lebanese General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim succeeded releasing 33 Syrian Druze, who were abducted by the ISIS terrorist group in Syria two weeks ago.
The victims were kidnapped in the al-Rahjan region in the eastern Hama countryside as they were headed from the Jarmana area in the Damascus countryside to Kaffatein in Idlib.
Mediations led to their release over two stages.
Head of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) MP Walid Jumblat confirmed that Ibrahim had “contributed to the release of a number of Syrian Druze in the Hama countryside from ISIS.”
He thanked him for his “effective role in their release.”
A PSP source that had monitored the release process told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Druze were riding a bus from Jarmana to Idlib at the time of their abduction. Clashes between Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and ISIS forced the driver to take an alternate route on the al-Rahjan road.
At the same time however the clashes spread to that area, which had previously been under the control of Hayat Tahriri al-Sham, and soon after, the bus fell in the hands of ISIS.
“The negotiations to release them kicked off from the minute they were kidnapped and until the moment they were released,” said the source.
It stressed that the meditation took place in great secrecy and away from the media to ensure its success.
The first batch of hostages was released on Friday in areas under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, while the second was freed on Sunday through the al-Saan crossing that separates the Syrian regime-held areas from ISIS-controlled regions.
The release was originally supposed to take place in one stage, but unrest in the region thwarted the efforts. A girl, identified as Lamisse Qassem, was killed in a shootout in the area that forced the release to be carry out over two days.
The village of Rahjan is the hometown of Syrian Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij. It fell in the hands of the Nusra Front in 2014 and the regime has been trying to recapture it since then.