|Lebanese clan warns over fate of Turkish hostage|
|A Lebanese Shiite clan that abducted a Turkish businessman in Beirut last week has warned of unspecified action if a kinsman kidnapped in Syria is not released soon, raising fears that the Turkish hostage's life may be in danger.|
Maher Meqdad, a spokesman for the Meqdad clan, said the Turkish hostage, Aydın Tufan Tekin, would not be released unless Hassan Meqdad, kidnapped in Syria by opposition forces, was released. In remarks published in the Lebanese Daily Star on Monday, Meqdad warned that the clan would take action after Eid al-Fitr if Hassan is not released.
“The Meqdad family has decided to give diplomacy a chance,” Maher told the Daily Star by telephone. “But if diplomacy fails, the story will be different,” he stressed, adding that he would announce the clan's future course of action during a news conference on Thursday, “when the holiday is over.”
Tekin, a businessman, was kidnapped shortly after his arrival in Beirut on Wednesday. The Shiite clan announced before Eid al-Fitr that they were also holding over 20 Syrians in addition to Tekin. They later said that they had released the Syrians after determining that the men were not affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the opposition group that kidnapped Meqdad.
Maher said Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour had asked the Meqdads to give the Lebanese government the opportunity to pursue a diplomatic solution until after the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
He would not specify what action the Meqdads might take in the event that Meqdad was not freed. “The family will meet after the holiday and decide,” he said, adding that the measures taken by the Meqdads would be carried out by the clan's armed wing.
Asked whether this meant a return to kidnappings, Maher said, “Everything [will be decided] in good time.”
A Turkish truck driver, Abdülbasit Arslan, was also kidnapped in Beirut on Friday, but the Meqdad family has denied involvement in his abduction.
Meanwhile, Tekin reportedly fell ill and was given medication by a doctor on Monday. There was no further information on his state of health.
Turkey, Lebanon in joint effort to locate Lebanese hostages
In a related development, Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said that Lebanon is working with Turkey to identify where the 11 kidnapped Lebanese are now being held after the Syrian army shelled the city where they were located.
“We are working with the Turkish side to determine the new location of the kidnapped and looking into means to communicate with the captors,” Charbel told Lebanese daily As-Safir.
Charbel was in Ankara last week to follow up on the case of the 11 Shiite pilgrims who were kidnapped after crossing into Syria from Turkey on May 22, following a pilgrimage to Iran. He said he would visit Turkey once again next week for further talks.
Reports surfaced earlier this month that four of the pilgrims were killed in an air strike by the Syrian army in Aleppo's Azaz district, where they were being held by the FSA. However, French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday that all 11 Lebanese were alive and well.
|Today's Zaman ISTANBUL|