Scores of Lebanese border town residents on Thursday blocked a road to neighboring Syria, protesting the “kidnapping” of two Lebanese from across the frontier, an AFP correspondent said.
Initial reports had suggested the two men had been detained Wednesday at the border crossing. But both the Lebanese state news agency and Syria's main opposition coalition later described the incident as a “kidnapping.”
Protesters pitched tents and used sandbags to block the road linking Lebanon and Syria, demanding that Mohammad Yassin al-Merebi and Mahdi Hamdan be set free.
The two men were “kidnapped by five armed men who crossed into Lebanon from across the Syrian border” while they were working on the land, the Lebanese news agency NNA reported.
One of the men's relatives, Sohayb al-Rashid, told AFP that residents “will continue protesting until the two men are set free. And if they are not set free soon, we will escalate our protests.” He did not elaborate.
“Contacts are being established with the Syrian side to set the two men free,” Rashid added.
Protesters pitched a tent 700 meters (yards) away from the border crossing into Syria at Abboudiyeh, which links north Lebanon to Homs in central Syria.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Syrian National Council accused the Syrian regime of “escalating its breaches of the Lebanese borders (and of) increasing its armed attacks targeting Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees.”
The SNC also accused the Syrian regime of “kidnapping Syrian wounded patients from hospitals” in northern Lebanon, while also accusing “the regime's mercenaries of setting up checkpoints inside Lebanese territory.”
The statement called for “people kidnapped on Lebanese territory by mercenaries of the Syrian regime to be set free.”
The Syrian regime dominated Lebanese politics for almost 30 years, until it was forced out in 2005, following the assassination of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.