Hasbani: We’ll Spare No Effort to Secure Release of Captive Troops

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani announced Thursday that the new government “will spare no effort” to secure the release of nine Lebanese troops held hostage by the extremist Islamic State group.

“As Prime Minister Saad Hariri has promised, the government will spare no effort to reach a happy ending for this painful file,” Hasbani said during a meeting at his office with Hussein Youssef, the head of a committee formed by the hostages’ families to follow up on their case.

Youssef for his part thanked Hasbani for the efforts that authorities are exerting to secure the release of the soldiers.

He also expressed the families’ joy over the results of the DNA tests that confirmed that corpses found in the Syrian-Lebanese border region are not of IS-held troops, hoping the soldiers will return soon to their country and families.

The fate of the troops has been shrouded with mystery for several months now and the families are demanding to know whether their sons are alive or dead.

The nine troops were among more than 30 servicemen who were abducted during the deadly 2014 battle between jihadists and the Lebanese army in and around the northeastern border town of Arsal.

While al-Nusra Front released 16 captives as part of a swap deal in December 2015, nine hostages remain in IS’ captivity and Lebanese officials have vowed to exert efforts to secure their release.