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Report: Palestinian mediation freed Lebanese abductees in Syria

Oct. 19, 2013 11:47 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 21, 2013 12:13 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- It was Palestinian brokers who secured the release of nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims who had been held in Syria since 2011, according to a Beirut-based satellite TV station.

Al-Mayadeen reported Saturday that the first phone call with the abductors was made by Palestinian ambassador to Turkey Nabil Maaroof from his mobile phone.

Additionally, al-Mayadeen reported, chief of the Palestinian general intelligence service Majid Faraj made shuttle visits to Istanbul as part of Palestinian efforts to broker an agreement with the abductors.

However, Palestinian officials have avoided commenting on the case until the abductees are back home.

The efforts started after Lebanese President Michel Suleiman asked his Palestinian counterpart President Mahmoud Abbas to intervene in the case.

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.

In a statement Friday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati highlighted that the abductees were in a secure place and ready to return to Lebanon.

Mikati extended congratulations to the free Lebanese, their families and the entire country on turning "a sad page for Lebanon. We thank all those who contributed to achieving their freedom, brothers and friendly nations."

He also revealed that Qatar's Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah, who is in Turkey, will accompany the pilgrims back to Lebanon.

The Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV channel quoted al-Attiyah as saying that Qatari mediation led to the release of the abductees.
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