World Bulletin / News Desk
Lebanese Shi'ite gunmen who kidnapped more than 20 people said on Thursday they would kill a Turkish hostage first if their kinsman captured by rebels in Syria was hurt and said they were looking to seize more Turkish citizens.
The Meqdad clan says it is seeking to put pressure on the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to release Hassan al-Meqdad by targeting both Syrians it says are part of the rebel force and citizens of Turkey, one of the rebels' regional sponsors. The clan is holding one Turk and the rest of its captives are Syrians.
The kidnapping has evoked memories of Lebanon's own civil war, reinforcing fears that the Syria conflict could trigger more instability in a much smaller neighbour where Damascus has had a major influence over politics and security for decades.
A member of the Meqdad family was quoted on Wednesday as saying citizens of Qatar and Saudi Arabia were also on their list of potential targets. In response, Gulf states ordered their citizens to leave Lebanon.
But Maher al-Meqdad, the spokesman for the clan, said the Meqdads were only targeting the FSA and Turks, adding that the number of Turkish captives "was likely to rise".
"If Hassan (al-Meqdad) is killed, the first hostage we will kill is the Turk," Maher al-Meqdad told Reuters.
"Regarding Saudis, Qataris and Gulf nationals, they are not targets for the Meqdad clan," said Maher al-Meqdad, speaking in an area of southern Beirut controlled by Hezbollah.
The clan says Hezbollah has nothing to do with the kidnappings.
The Turkish hostage was interviewed after his abduction on Wednesday by a Lebanese television channel. He said he had come to Lebanon for a business trip.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said it was in contact with the family of the kidnapped Turk, who it named as Aydin Tufan Tekin.
"Our ministry and Beirut Embassy are continuing intensive efforts to secure the release unharmed of our kidnapped citizen," it said in a statement released late on Wednesday
Meqdad said Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour had been in touch to seek the release of the Turk, but added that he would not be released until Hassan al-Meqdad was freed.
"Our adversary is only the Free Syrian Army," he said. "We want our relative."
"We express our regret. We say that we are sharing the pain felt by those who lost loved ones. We say that we will pay compensation, if needed.", Yildirim said.
Hospital and house construction in the occupied Palestinian territory will be undertaken by Turkey under the new deal with Israeli government, Turkish PM says
Turkish army responds after two shells fell in Hatay province
Diplomatic sources say Mevlut Cavusoglu will attend July meeting of regional Black Sea body in Sochi
'Foreign and US tourists have been explicitly targeted,' State Dept. says
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Monday that Turkey and Israel were to normalize relations
Relations between two countries have been marked by ups and downs since creation of Jewish state in 1948
Parliament agrees Turkish troops will continue serving as UN peacekeepers in Lebanon for another year
Local Election Board says no congress can be held until Ankara court has its say
Turkish PM says reconciliation deal with Israel will be signed Tuesday
“We see an acceleration in steps to smooth over relations with Russia,” Deputy PM Kurtulmuş says following a cabinet meeting
Ankara reaches deal with Tel Aviv on improving conditions in Gaza, Turkish president tells Palestinian counterpart
PKK terrorists detonated a bomb in Bitlis, leaving one soldier martyred and two others wounded early Monday
A new deal comes six years after an Israeli raid killed Turkish activists on a flotilla seeking to deliver aid to Gaza
Von der Leyen expresses regret for cancellation of German lawmakers' visit to Turkish base