BEIRUT (AP) — An al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebel group has released five Lebanese soldiers captured earlier this month in a cross-border raid, Lebanon's state news agency said Sunday.
The men were taken hostage when militants from Syria took over the Lebanese border town of Arsal for five days before withdrawing toward the Syrian frontier, taking with them Lebanese soldiers and policemen as hostages. The clashes were the most dangerous spillover of violence from the civil war in neighboring Syria.
The National News Agency said Sunday that the Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, released the five men late Saturday. All five are Sunni Muslims.
While the release of the five soldiers provided a degree of relief, concerns remained about the troops and policemen still in captivity. On Sunday, the families of the men still being held burned tires to block two highways in the Bekaa Valley near Arsal, demanding their release.