The families of nine Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped by mercenaries in Syria staged on Tuesday a sit-in near the Turkish embassy in Rabieh, north of capital Beirut, vowing to forbid Turkish nationals from entering Lebanon.
The families of nine Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped by mercenaries in Syria staged on Tuesday a sit-in near the Turkish embassy in Rabieh, north of capital Beirut, vowing to forbid Turkish nationals from setting their feet on Lebanese soil.
Spokeswoman for the families of the abducted pilgrims Hayat Awali vowed to continue with such measures until the return of the kidnapped men from Syria.
“We will cut the road to every Turkish tourist in Lebanon,” Awali said, adding that the protesters will prevent Turkish citizens from entering Lebanon every time a Turkish plane touches down in Beirut.
The families accuse Turkey of protecting the kidnappers. Ankara is a main backer of the armed militias who are fighting against the Syrian army.
The National News Agency said that the protesters headed later Tuesday to downtown Beirut to hold a sit-in near the Turkish Cultural Center but the security forces prevented them from doing so.
Eleven Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped in May 2012 in Syria's Aleppo province that borders Turkey as they were making their way back to Lebanon by land from visiting the holy shrines in Iran. Two of them have since been released, while the rest remain held in the town of Aazaz.
A previously unknown group calling itself Zuwwar Imam al-Rida has claimed the kidnapping of two Turkish Airlines pilots, demanding Ankara use its influence with Syria's opposition militant groups to secure the release of the abducted pilgrims.
The pilots were kidnapped in August while on their way from Rafik Hariri International airport to a hotel in Beirut.
Lebanese authorities have arrested three suspects and charged them in connection with the abduction.