PA officials worked for over a year to free Lebanese hostages
Published Sunday 20/10/2013 (updated) 20/10/2013 21:41
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority officials worked for over a year to secure the release of nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims who had been held in Syria since 2011, the Palestinian Authority ambassador to Turkey said Sunday.
Nabil Maarouf told Ma'an that Palestinian officials cooperated with Lebanese, Turkish and Qatari officials to secure the release of the pilgrims.
The pilgrims, who had been held hostage in Syria for 17 months, arrived in Beirut on Saturday after being freed in an exchange that also released two Turkish Airlines pilots seized in Lebanon.
Beirut-based satellite TV station Al-Mayadeen reported Saturday that the first phone call with the abductors was made by Maaroof from his mobile phone.
Al-Mayadeen highlighted that "it was a Palestinian mediation from A to Z," and then Qatar took official responsibility because Palestine does not have the logistics on the ground as a state to finish the mission.
Chief of the Palestinian general intelligence service Majid Faraj also made shuttle visits to Istanbul as part of Palestinian efforts to broker an agreement with the abductors.
Palestinians in Lebanon's refugee camps "pay the price of any political crisis in Lebanon, so it was an obligation to help the Lebanese people to find solutions to this crisis," Marouf told Ma'an.
AFP contributed to this report