This week, a group of Lebanese citizens have been abducted by militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army, who declared them pro-Assad terrorists. In a video posted on the Internet, one of the captives allegedly confesses to be a sniper sent by Hezbollah to help government troops in Syria. But in reality, he is a banker. The truth was revealed to the Voice of Russia by Gazi al-Mekdad, who represents Lebanon’s influential al-Mekdad clan. He accused the Syrian opposition of telling lies.
"Those who are calling themselves the Syrian opposition are shamelessly lying. They say what they think is to their advantage or what is convenient for them. Hassan al-Mekdad has nothing to do with Hezbollah. He is a bank employee who was in Syria on private business. He was kidnapped and pressed to admit that he was one of the Hezbollah."
The Voice of Russia correspondent in Beirut Zahra al-Amir has collected proof of the kidnapped Hassan al-Mekdad’s non-involvement in political battles in Syria.
"Hassan al-Mekdad has been staying in Syria over the past year and a half. He breached the law of bank checks, which was his reason for leaving Lebanon. Last week, he received news that his case had been settled. He was planning to return to Lebanon. And then he was abducted."
Al-Mekdad’s wife does not wear a hijab and always appears in public bareheaded, which would have been totally out of question for the family of a Hezbollah activist.
The banker’s own clan, which cooperates with Hezbollah, interceded for him. Lebanese Shiites then took several Syrian Sunnis, linked to the opposition, and also one Turk and one Saudi hostage, and gave the Free Syrian Army 48 hours to release the banker or face new arrests among Syrian opposition supporters in Lebanon.
Vladimir Sotnichenko, an expert of the Center for Middle East Studies in St. Petersburg, believes that the “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” policy is dangerous for the region.
"Dragging Lebanon into the Syrian crisis and getting Hezbollah involved in the civil war in Syria may end up with Lebanon becoming a full-fledged party to the conflict, because Hezbollah represents Shiites who make up one-third of Lebanon’s population."
A couple of days ago, in a sign of fresh inter-confessional feud that might be brewing in Lebanon, the country’s Sunni Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who, until recently, had been observing neutrality, lashed out at Damascus, accusing it of preparing terrorist acts and contract killings on the Lebanese territory. Local Shiites, outraged by the premier’s statement, went on a rioting spree, attacking shops owned by Syrians and blocking all highways leading to Beirut’s international airport. Clashes between supporters and opponents of Bashar Assad have been reported in northern Lebanon. This could be the beginning of a new civil war. Analysts fear the conflict may grow internationalized and involve Hezbollah’s traditional ally, Iran, confronted by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Persian Gulf monarchies ruled by the Sunni elites.