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SENIOR HIZBULLAH OFFICERS AMONG SHIITE ABDUCTEES IN SYRIA

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Wafiq Safa’s son, Ali Safa, who is married th Hassan Nasserallah’s sister, was among five senior Hizbullah intelligence officers abducted by an unidentified  special commando in Northern Syria, probably on 05/22/2012. The other four are:  Hussein Hamid, the commander of Hizbullah in South Lebanon; Ali Zgheib, a member of the Hizbullah Jihad Committee;  Hussein Arzouni, a senior Hizbullah intelligence officer in South Lebanon, and  Abbas Shoaib (Shaaban), the head of Hizbullah’s military training programme in Beka Valley in Lebanon.

Their names were published initially, on 05/23/2012, by Lebanese news and media channels, when they were named among a larger group of 12 Shiite pilgrims who were abducted in the Syrian town of Azaz on the border with Turkey. The Lebanese were, allegedly, on their way  back to Lebanon from a trip to religious sites in Iran.  Buses belonging to the Badr al-Kobra and Imam Al-Sadr Islamic tourism agencies were attacked by 40 assailants who kidnapped all men from two buses in the northern province of Aleppo shortly after crossing the Syrian-Turkish border. Women who were aboard the buses were allowed to go free.

Hayat Awali, who identified herself as a passenger, told Lebanon’s Al Jadeed TV from Aleppo: “When we crossed the border around 40 gunmen stopped the bus and forced it into a nearby orchard and said women should stay on the bus and men get out”.

Spokesmen of the Free Syrian Army – FSA denied any responsibility for kidnapping and blamed unknown armed gangs for this, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights website.

Hassan Nasserallah, leader of Hizbullah, which dominates the Lebanese government, went on Al-Manar television to urge protesters to exercise self-restraint and said that nobody should resort to violence.

But on Thursday 06/01/2012, a previously unknown armed group calling itself the “Syrian Revolutionaries — Aleppo Province” said that it is holding a group of Lebanese Shiite pilgrims who went missing last week. “The kidnapped Lebanese are being looked after by us and are in good health,” the group said in a statement received by Qatar-based satellite Al-Jazeera T.V Network. “Negotiations for their release are possible as soon as (Hizbullah leader Hassan) Nasserallah apologises”.

According to unidentified and unconfirmed sources the five Hizbullah officers mentioned above were abducted not in Northern Syria but  in Al-Hama, in the Western outskirts of Damascus, almost simultaneously, which means the abduction in Northern Syria was a sort of diversion..

Giving the seniority of some of the abductees in Hizbullah, their specific role in the organization and the tension between the Syrian regime, supported by Hizbullah, and the Sunni population of Northern Syria opposing the regime the story is bizarre and enigmatic (see also -Shiite Arc) .
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