Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has called for the release of Lebanese Shia pilgrims held in Syria in a televised speech.
“The pilgrims should be returned to their families,” Nasrallah said on Friday, during a ceremony commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
“If your problem is with Hezbollah … or a political party in Lebanon and its position on the events in Syria leave innocent people aside and solve your problem with us,” he said, addressing the kidnappers.
“If you have a problem with me there are many ways [in which] we can solve it and on many levels, if you want war we can solve it with war, if you want peace then we can solve it in peace,” he said.
The Shia movement Hezbollah allegedly receives much of its weapons through Syria.
The group has steadfastly expressed its support for President Bashar al-Assad’s government since the outbreak of the uprising on March 15, 2011.
A previously unknown armed group calling itself the “Syrian Revolutionaries – Aleppo Province” announced on Thursday that it is holding the dozen or so pilgrims who went missing in Syria on May 22.
“The kidnapped Lebanese are being looked after by us and are in good health,” the group said in a statement to Al Jazeera.
“Negotiations for their release are possible as soon as Nasrallah apologises.”
Nasrallah had said last week “if this kidnapping is aimed at putting pressure on our political position, it’s a waste of time”.