The Lebanese fishermen caught near the Syrian coast were released Saturday night after extensive negotiations between Damascus and Beirut, yet signs of torture were evident on their bodies.
“I really wished I had died,” Fadi, one of the released fishermen, told Al Arabiya.
Fadi was abducted by the Syrian navy with fellow fisherman Khaled Hamad; a third occupant of their boat, 16-year-old friend Maher Hamad, was shot dead.
“We found ourselves in one of the military posts in the city of Tartus, where one of the officers started beating us brutally and asking us to confess to smuggling arms into Syria.”
The confession they wanted to force them into making, Fadi said, was to include that the smuggling was planned by former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.
“I had not imagined that the Syrian could be that tyrannical,” he said.
Residents of the border village of Arida are determined to block the international roads that connect Syria with Lebanon in protest of the death of Maher and the torture of Fadi and Khaled, said Haitham Darwish, a relative of Maher.
“This is not the first incident and will obviously not be the last,” he said.
Darwish called for the retrieval of the boat confiscated by the Syrian authorities during the assault on the fishermen.
“Whole families in the village earn their living with this boat.”
Lebanese member of parliament for the Future Movement, Khaled al-Daher, condemned the Syrian attacks on Lebanese citizens.
“The violations committed by the Syrian regime have crossed all the lines,” he told Al Arabiya.
Daher accused the Lebanese government of abandoning Lebanese citizens and of collaborating with the Syrian regime.
“The government’s silence will encourage the Syrian regime to commit more crimes against the Lebanese.”
Daher stressed that the Future Movement and all the Mar. 14 coalition will stand up against those violations.
“We will demand that the government take the issue to international judiciary to punish the killers of this boy whose blood was spilled by the Syrian regime.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)