Syria kidnappings becoming increasing problem


Shiite Muslim youths set tires on fire to block the entrance to Beirut's suburbs in protest against the kidnapping in Aleppo, Syria of 13 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims returning home from a pilgrimage in Iran on May 22, 2012.



Kidnappings in Syria are becoming common for rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad and common thugs looking for a quick dollar, The Telegraph reported.

According to the newspaper’s sources, the Free Syrian Army is trying to negotiate the release of kidnapping victims, but also stands accused of the crime itself.

The FSA is going as far as publishing a telephone number that relatives can call to ask for help.

“When they receive a call from relatives of the victim, they track down the kidnappers. Then they either issue threats, or they go in for the rescue using force,” one witness told The Telegraph.

However, others accuse the FSA of abductions to fund the uprising against Assad.

Many of the kidnappings are happening in Syria’s second city and its financial capital, Aleppo.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights confirmed kidnappings are becoming more common.

“The FSA know who the rich families are in Aleppo,” a Catholic clergyman told The Telegraph. “They watch their homes and movements.”

The idea of making money from ransoms to fund the conflict isn't entirely new. GlobalPost's Tracey Shelton reported in June that rebel forces and the government have exchanged prisoners for weapons since the beginning of the revolution.

More from GlobalPost: Syria’s rebels learn the value of a prisoner

Agence France-Presse reported two brothers of a Syrian rebel leader died Thursday in fighting near Damascus.

Video footage posted to YouTube purported to show the bodies of Mohammad and Ahmad Al Zakh, who had been kidnapped, AFP said.

The violent acts aren’t restricted to Syrians, however.

Families of 10 Lebanese hostages still inside Syria asked former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to negotiate the victims’ safety, The Daily Star in Lebanon reported.

In May, Syrian rebels abducted Lebanese Shi’ite pilgrims crossing into Syria from Turkey.

They were returning home from a pilgrimage to Iran, Reuters reported.

The FSA released some hostages, but 10 remain inside Syria.

More from GlobalPost: You will never guess who arms the rebels inside Syria