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Report: Lebanon

Lebanese IS, al-Nusra hostage families demand action to save relatives

Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam
Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam Reuters/Jamal Saidi

The families of 27 Lebanese hostages held by the Islamic State armed group and the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front say their government is not doing enough to free them.  Relatives of the kidnapped men are camped out in downtown Beirut. As negotiations renewed this week, the families say the government has done little to include them.

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The hostages are made up of soldiers and police officers captured during a battle in the Lebanese border town of Arsal in August.

Five of the hostages were released the same month.

Camped outside the office of Prime Minister Tammam Salam, the families were discussing the latest news on Thursday, angry that their government isn't doing enough to aid their release.

The families themselves say that al-Nusra Front this week issued a list of choices to the Lebanese government.

They say that the government is now negotiating on exchanging each hostage for five prisoners in Roumieh prison, as well as 50 women incarcerated by the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Hussein Jadar's nephew, Mayman Jabar, and his son Abu Kalfoni are two of the hostages.

He says the government response has been far too slow and that the involvement of Syria has slowed negotiations considerably, at a moment when relations with Lebanon are tense.

"Really, really we don't know what happened because no one from this government takes responsibility to tell us what really occurred," says Sabrin Kromba, whose husband Ziad Omar is a sergeant with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and a hostage.

The families are angry that the government has only communicated with them through an intermediary and that they have appealed to the Turkish and Qatari ambassadors for help.

On Monday the Islamist groups threatened to execute the hostages.

Intense negotiations prevented this, while the families brought downtown Beirut to a standstill, burning tires and staging a sit-in.

For now they hope their government will push harder to free the hostages, so the same thing doesn't happen again.

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