A Turkish businessman held hostage by a powerful Shiite Muslim clan in Lebanon was reunited with his family on Tuesday (September 12) after being handed over to Lebanese security forces the previous day.
The armed wing of Lebanon’s Meqdad clan kidnapped Turkish businessman Aydin Tufan Tekin in mid-August along with a group of Syrian men.
The hostages were taken in retaliation for the abduction of a Meqdad relative in Damascus, seized by rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Prior to his release Tekin was believed to be the last remaining captive among more than 20 people abducted by the group last month.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lebanese security forces had freed the four remaining Syrian hostages in a midnight raid.
The four Syrians told a local television station they had been tortured and forced to confess they were rebels fighting Assad.
“Of course they were tough days. There were many difficulties. You count days, minutes, and seconds. Sometimes it’s good sometimes it’s bad. Sometimes you get excited, sometimes you get bored,” Tekin told reporters, promising to provide more details.
“It was a long period for us. I will talk in a few days’ time, not now," he added.
The Meqdad clan said it had kidnapped Syrians working with the rebels as well as a Turkish hostage as a means of putting pressure on both the Syrian rebels and Turkey, which has supported the 17-month-old uprising in neighboring Syria.
The clan later released most of the hostages, except the four Syrians and Tekin.
The kidnapping of foreigners has become a growing concern in Lebanon, which is worried about a possible spillover of sectarian violence from the revolt in the neighboring country.
Tensions have been rising between Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, who generally support the uprising led by Syria’s Sunni majority, and Shiites who usually support Assad’s minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Another Turkish hostage still remains in the hands of a separate group of kidnappers in Lebanon. That group is demanding the release of 11 Shiite Lebanese men being held by rebels in northern Syria.