In Lebanon, Video Shows Shiite Pilgrims Held by Syria Rebels
In a case that has roiled sectarian tensions, new video surfaced Saturday appearing to show 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims in good health but in the custody of Syrian rebels who apparently kidnapped them.
The 11 men were seized in northern Syria in May on their way back from a Shiite shrine. A previously unknown group calling itself Syrian rebels, Aleppo Province claimed responsibility for the abduction, according to a statement received by Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite channel.
The kidnapping has raised tensions in Lebanon, with its uneasy mix of sects and ethnic groups. Many officials worry about a spillover of Syria’s violence into neighboring Lebanon. Lebanese officials have demanded that the pilgrims be released and are said to be involved in behind-the-scenes talks to secure their freedom.
The kidnappers are presumed to be part of Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, who are leading the uprising in Syria against the government of President Bashar Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.