Report: over 20 Syrians taken captive in Lebanon


Members of the Free Syrian Army at a safehouse on northern Lebanon's border with Syria.


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Relatives of a Lebanese man taken captive by Syrian rebels have kidnapped over 20 Syrians and today said they will keep them hostage until their relative is released, reported the Associated Press

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Relative Abu Ali al-Mikdad told reporters in Beirut today that he and his family members have captured "more than 20 Syrians," including a top member of the country's main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, said AP

The group was taken captive late Tuesday by what Jordan's Al Bawaba described as a "powerful clan" in Lebanan. 

The International Business Times (IBT) identified those responsible as a Shiite clan known as the Meqdads, a group that claims to be neutral toward the conflict in Syria, where a mostly Sunni rebel movement is trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a member of an offshoot Shiite sect. However, some members have criticized involvement by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom back the rebels, said IBT, writing that the kidnapping points to the "Shi'a-Sunni divide" at work in the Syrian crisis. 

The Syrians will be held until rebels release Hassane Salim al-Mikdad, a Lebanese man the Syrian rebels claimed in a recent video is a member of the Iran-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah, according to AP. In fact, more kidnappings were threatened unless and until he is released, reported IBT

Mikdad was taken hostage on Monday, reported Al Bawaba

The news comes as the US today accused the Islamic Republic of helping the Syrian regime train militias to fight against the rebels as part of their over year-long fight for control of the country.

It also comes amid a two-day emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation being held in Saudi Arabia, an event expected to focus on the Syria crisis. 

The violence in Syria is ongoing -- including a major bombing in Damascus today -- and is believed to have taken some 20,000 lives.