Al-Nusra Front ‘kills Lebanese soldier’, promises more if prisoners not released
The video of the victim, Mohammad Hammieh, executed with a shot to the head, was shown together with a plea from another Lebanese soldier, Ali al-Bazzal, who appealed to his family to take action, or he would be next to die, Turkish agency Anadolu reported.
Lebanese media say the terrorists are offering an exchange – Hammieh’s body for 15 of their captured cohorts.
In explaining the execution, the Nusra Front said it was a reprisal for the Lebanese army’s attacks on Al-Nusra Front positions in the north of Lebanon, in Arsal, as well as Hezbollah’s (the Shiite paramilitary group) Friday attacks.
— The Daily Star (@DailyStarLeb) September 20, 2014
Hammieh, they said, was “the one who paid the price” for Hezbollah’s alleged role in obstructing negotiations with the Lebanese government, as well as Arsal attacks on Syrian refugees.
“Mohammed Hamiyeh is the first victim of the intransigence of the Lebanese army, which has become a puppet in the hands of the Iranian party,” Al-Nusra Front added.
Along with Friday’s video they also circulated a photo of the dead soldier, photo-shopped into a black coffin.
He was among the nine Lebanese soldiers who were seen in an earlier August 23 video posted by the terrorist group, following fierce clashes with the Lebanese army in Arsal last month. The fighting claimed the lives of 19 soldiers and resulted in 35 hostages – mainly policemen – being taken by the terrorists.
— David Feeney (@Feeney4Batman) September 20, 2014
"In case news of our son's death is true, I blame the government for his killing because they deliberately were slow in the negotiations and were not serious about them," the soldier’s father said at a news conference on Saturday, following Friday’s Twitter reports of the video.
Friday saw a bomb attack taking place, which killed two soldiers in Arsal, resulting in a hunt for the killers. This included raids and around 200 arrests being made, according to local media reports.
Although the video was being circulated on social networks on Friday, Al-Nusra Front first threatened to kill Hammieh on Tuesday, amid ongoing indirect negotiations between the Lebanese government and the terrorists, mediated by Qatar.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front’s demands mirror those of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) terrorists’. Both groups demand the release of fellow Islamist prisoners from the same facility – the Roumieh Prison, in exchange for Lebanese prisoners of war. By media accounts, 22 hostages have been taken following last month’s clashes in Arsal.