World Bulletin / News Desk
Lebanese security forces freed four Syrian hostages on Tuesday in a raid on a powerful Shi'ite Muslim clan, which kidnapped more than 20 people last month.
The four told a Lebanese television station they had been tortured when they were held by the armed wing of the Meqdad clan and were forced to confess they were rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
They were among more than 20 Syrian men, as well as a Turkish businessman, abducted in the Lebanese capital of Beirut in mid-August.
The clan said its abductions were in response to the capture of one of its kinsmen by Syrian rebels trying to topple Assad.
The clan later released all but the four Syrians and the Turk, who the Meqdad family spokesman Maher Meqdad said was shot and wounded in the raid and is now the only hostage left.
The army said it had freed the four in a midnight raid in a southern suburb of the capital.
"The army leadership is intent on continuing its raids and imposing the rule of law," the army statement said. "It will not back away from these measures until it has caught all those involved and freed all the hostages."
The kidnapping of foreigners has become a growing concern in Lebanon, which is concerned about a possible spillover of sectarian violence from the revolt in neighbouring Syria.
The tensions have provoked sporadic clashes in northern Lebanon between pro- and anti-Assad factions that have already killed dozens.
The four Syrians told the MTV Lebanon news channel they had been tortured and forced to confess on the regional news channel Al Mayadeen, which is based in Lebanon.
"I was forced by threats to say I was in the FSA, that I was a captain ... I have nothing to do with this, I'm just a shop worker here to support my wife and kids," one said, referring to the Free Syrian Army.
Another freed hostage, who gave his name as Mohammed, said he was beaten, electrocuted, and placed in a coffin in episodes of torture that lasted 15 days.
"I was put on Al Mayadeen and they made me say things I shouldn't have," he told MTV Lebanon.
"They wanted me to say I am revolting against Assad's apostate army and the Alawites and Shi'ites. They made me say it and then they believed it. But I reject all of this."
Sami Kleib, head of news for Al Mayadeen, said his correspondent was not complicit in the forced confession but was taken to the scene blindfolded, told he could film for just three minutes and could not ask his own questions.
Carter commends Isik on ‘selfless acts by Turkish security personnel’ during attack, Pentagon says
Turkish fighter jets destroy 6 PKK terrorist targets in northern Iraq, 2 in southeastern Turkey on Wednesday
Right after phone conversation between Putin and Erdogan, the two countries will resume dialogue to find a solution to Syrian crisis, says Russian FM Sergei Lavrov.
Turkish president says Turkey, Russia and Israel are all winners in normalization of relations
“We feel for the victims of the extremist attack,” Russian president says
Russian president welcomes letter from Turkish counterpart calling for restoration of friendly relations
President Erdogan and Prime Minister Yildirim expected to attend opening ceremony
Turkish and Russian leader, speaking on phone, agree to boost relations and cooperation with a face-to-face meeting
Death toll of the Atatürk airport attack rises to 41, including ten foreign nationals, local government office says
- According to governor's office, 10 foreign nationals and 3 others with dual Turkish citizenship among dead
President Erdogan and his Russian counterpart held a "positive" phone conversation on Wednesday, diplomatic source says.
Funds will be used to support Turkish Cypriot nation for improving public finance and real sector among host of areas
At least 36 people died in Tuesday night's triple suicide bombing at Ataturk airport, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early Wednesday.
“This week we will start the process of ambassador appointment” between Turkey and Israel, Kalin told reporters in Ankara.
Malaysian leader calls for Muslim countries to unite in combating terror; countries share support for Turkey
There have been several bomb attacks in Turkey, with some of the worst since 1986 occurring in the last year