Militants hand over two bodies to Lebanese army

Reuters News
Posted: May 01, 2015 12:33 PM

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Militants have handed over to the Lebanese army the corpses of a civilian and a soldier that had been in the possession of hardline Islamic State fighters, LBC television reported on Friday.

The two people had been killed last year in the outskirts of Arsal, a town near the Syrian border, LBC said.

A security source confirmed two bodies had been handed over but gave no details about them nor which group was involved.

If the LBC report is correct, it would be the first time that Islamic State fighters have cooperated with the army to hand over bodies.

Sunni Muslim groups fighting in Syria's civil war have also been active across the border in Lebanon.

The army did not issue any information in response to the reports.

The Lebanese government has been seeking the release of about two dozen soldiers held captive by Islamist militants since last year in a crisis which has triggered frequent demonstrations by the families of the soldiers.

Fighting in Arsal last year between Islamist gunmen and the army marked some of the worst spillover violence since Syria's war began four years ago and has risked exacerbating tensions in Lebanon among sectarian groups at odds over the Syrian conflict.

Both Islamic State and Syria's al Qaeda wing Nusra Front took soldiers captive after entering Arsal and have beheaded or shot dead some of them.

There have also been several attacks by militant gunmen believed to be from Nusra Front or Islamic State on Lebanese soldiers in border areas and campaigns by the army against militant positions.

Islamic State holds large tracts of territory in Syria and Iraq while Nusra Front fighters have made gains in recent weeks in northwestern Syria.

(Writing by Sylvia Westalll, Editing by Angus MacSwan)