Hezbollah fighter freed in prisoner swap

Lebanon-based group says Imad Ayyad was freed in exchange for two fighters, believed to be from al-Nusra Front.

    Hezbollah has said one of its members has been released in exchange for two fighters [Hezbollah Media Relations]
    Hezbollah has said one of its members has been released in exchange for two fighters [Hezbollah Media Relations]

    Lebanon's Hezbollah movement has said one of its members, captured in Syria by al-Qaeda's affiliate there, has been released in exchange for two fighters held by the Shia armed group.

    "Prisoner Imad Ayyad has been freed, in exchange for two members of al-Nusra Front who were being held by Hezbollah, after weeks of negotiations," the group's television channel reported on Tuesday.

    Hezbollah confirmed the swap in a later statement without mentioning al-Nusra.

    It said Ayyad was exchanged for two "armed men", without specifying when he had been captured.

    A Hezbollah source, meanwhile, flatly denied any al-Nusra involvement in the deal, referring instead to Ayyad's kidnappers as "gunmen in Qalamun", a Syrian region bordering Lebanon.

    Hezbollah is allied to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, and has sent thousands of fighters to support his army's bid to quell a nearly four-year revolt across the country.

    The Lebanese group has played a key role in fighting around Damascus, especially in Qalamun.

    The prisoner swap comes as Qatar-mediated talks try to secure freedom for 27 Lebanese soldiers held hostage by al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group since August after a fierce battle for the border town of Arsal.

    Three soldiers held by al-Nusra and ISIL have already been executed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.