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Conflict Incident Report

Syrians held hostage by Lebanese families escape

Associated Timeline/Case: 
Arsal Conflict (starting August 2, 2014)
Date of incident: 
September 2, 2014
Death toll: 
Number of Injured: 
Actors/Parties Involved: 
Syrian Civilians/Refugees

Seventeen Syrians in east Lebanon escaped from a garage they were being held in by relatives of captured soldiers, a security source told The Daily Star Tuesday. The Syrians were taken hostage by people who claimed to be families of soldiers captured by ISIS and the Nusra Front during last month's clashes with the Lebanese Army, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. They stayed overnight in a garage in the village of Shmustar and were able to break the door and escape. Media reports said the families held the Syrians to exchange them for the captured soldiers. Meanwhile, the families of the hostages blocked the main northern Batroun-Tripoli highway at Qalamoun, calling for the speedy release of the remaining captives after the Nusra Front freed five soldiers Sunday. Jihadists from ISIS and the Nusra Front are now holding at least 23 soldiers and policemen captive to trade them for Islamist prisoners held at Lebanon’s Roumieh prison. Five soldiers and policemen were freed earlier this week while the body of Ali al-Sayyed, who ISIS beheaded last week, was handed over to the Lebanese Army Monday. In videos posted by the radical groups, the captive soldiers and police officers have pleaded with their communities to block roads in the country to pressure the government to negotiate with the Islamist fighters or they would be killed. The gunmen are demanding the release of Islamist detainees in Roumieh Prison, most of whom have been held since 2007 over involvement in clashes with the Army in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. The government has decided to speed up the trials of the detainees and release those who have been in detention longer than any sentence they face. According to judicial sources, the government is working through the Justice Ministry with the judiciary to find “a legal and judicial solution” for the cases of 94 Islamist detainees held in Roumieh prison since 2007, judicial sources said.

Primary category: 
Hostage Taking Situation [inc. attempt, release]
Classification of conflict (primary): 
Conflicts of social discrimination
Violent and unjust treatment of different categories of people and individuals based on race, age, gender or sexuality, committed by the State, groups and individuals, related to a lack of protection and rights, inefficiency of the Justice system and persisting social and economic vulnerabilities.
Classification of conflict(secondary):
Individual acts of violence
Violent incidents which do not have a specific or a known political agenda but are caused by the general proliferation of weapons, of trained and untrained soldiers or militants, by the general inefficiency of the Justice system, and past-traditions and histories of violence within society.