Beirut: Nine Lebanese citizens kidnapped by rebels in Syria last year have been freed, Lebanon`s Interior Minister Marwan Charbel has said.
"The nine Lebanese held in Syria are on their way to Turkey," he told AFP yesterday. The former hostages "are in a secure place and are ready to enter Lebanon," Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in a statement, citing the country`s security chief.
The release comes after a senior Lebanese security official travelled to Damascus to discuss a prisoner exchange deal to free the group, who were abducted in Syria`s northern Aleppo province in May 2012 as their families said they were returning from a pilgrimage to Iran.
At the same time, Turkey said two Turkish Airlines pilots who were abducted in Lebanon in August are close to being freed.
The pilots were kidnapped by a previously unknown group which said it had seized the pair to secure the release of nine Lebanese citizens who had been kidnapped in Syria.