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Syrian rebels deny kidnapping Lebanese pilgrims

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Syrian rebels deny kidnapping Lebanese pilgrims


There were scenes of relief at Beirut airport as a group of Lebanese women arrived home from Syria – but the Shi’ite men they were with are still being held hostage.

The rebel group the Free Syrian Army has denied kidnapping the 13 pilgrims in Aleppo province as they returned from a religious trip to Iran.

The abductions have raised tensions in Lebanon, increasing fears that Syria’s neighbour is being dragged into the conflict.

One woman, Anaam Yateem, was with the group and described what happened.

“A white car with gunmen inside stopped us, they pointed their guns and got into the buses. First they took us to the fields saying that they were taking us away from the shelling, while really they took us there to kidnap the men. They said they were the Free Syrian Army and they wanted to rescue us from the shelling.”

The news brought unrest in the Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut that is home to many of the men.

Lebanon is deeply divided over the Syrian issue.

Opponents of President al Assad suspect the Syrian regime was behind the abductions in a bid to discredit the rebels.

Hezbollah has appealed for calm.

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