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Sectarian congestion in Syria seems largely spelling into Lebanon

08-16-2012 02:28 BJT

DAMASCUS, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- The sectarian congestion in Syria seems to have largely spelled into neighboring Lebanon with reports of the kidnapping of Syrian opponents in Lebanon in retaliation to similar moves carried out by the rebels in Syria against Lebanese Shiite citizens.

Lebanese Shiite clansmen said Wednesday that they have captured 30 Syrians living in Lebanon allegedly members of the rebels Free Syrian army (FSA). The al-Mikdad family has made the move in retaliation of the kidnapping of one of their members, Hassan al- Mikdad, who was kidnapped in Syria by the FSA a couple of days ago allegedly because he is a member of the Lebanese Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, however, said al-Mikdad is not a member of its militia.

In May, a group of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims were kidnapped by the FSA, whose leadership has at first denied its responsibility but later confessed that its members did the kidnapping under the pretext that the Lebanese are members of the Hezbollah and that they have come to Syria to help the administration in its crackdown on opposition strongholds.

The 11 snitched pilgrims were passing the Syrian borders from Turkey with their wives when the FSA kidnapped them.

Also, 48 Shiite Iranian pilgrims were kidnapped in Damascus a couple of weeks ago by the FSA, which alleged that the abducted Iranians are members of the Iranian Republican Guards.

The armed opposition fighters are dominantly Sunni people while the Syrian leadership is dominated by the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The armed rebels in Syria have a strong belief that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is being supported on ground by Iran and Shiite fighters of Hezbollah. Such belief has fanned the flames of a bitter sectarian rift in Syria and also in Lebanon, given the fact that both countries are multi- confessionals and consist of an assorted melange of sects and beliefs.

Reports said that negotiations have been taking place off the radar between Iran, Hezbollah and the influential states that have a sway on the rebels in Syria, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey that serve for the release of the kidnapped Shiite people in Syria.

However, the negotiations seem to have slammed with a dead-end, triggering the families of the kidnapped Lebanese to threat to take retaliatory moves against members of the Syrian opposition in Lebanon.

Lebanon has been largely divided between opponents and proponents of Syria's Assad. Clashes have also taken place in the Lebanese northern province of Tripoli between Sunni and Alawite people against the backdrop of the developments in Syria.

The pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV aired Wednesday a video purporting to show two of the kidnapped Syrians in Lebanon by the al-Mikdad family. Both Syrians identified themselves as members of the FSA.

The kidnapping of Syrians in Lebanon prompted some leaders of the FSA to threat to kill the 11 kidnapped Lebanese. However, later reports denied the FSA intention to liquidate the Lebanese.

The FSA has further denied responsibility for the kidnapping of Hassan al-Mikdad, saying other armed groups are responsible and that those groups have nothing to do with the FSA.

On Wednesday afternoon, unconfirmed media reports claimed that the 11 Lebanese have been killed due to the Syrian army bombardment on the Azaz area in northern Aleppo province.

The reports have sent the families of the 11 people to unleash a barrage of threats against the Syrian rebels and Sunni Lebanese leaders, who they think have a hand in the kidnapping of Lebanese nationals. The Lebanese NTV station aired live coverage of the families' tension, some of whom said "if the grief overwhelmed our houses, the destruction will overwhelmed theirs."

No official account from the FSA or from Lebanese officials was released to clarify the murky situation.

The recent incidents have added a new dim prospect to the combustible situation and how the Syrian crisis seems to be big enough to spill into other regional countries.

After the development on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia called on its citizens to leave Lebanon and warned others of traveling there.


Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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