Syrian Official Vows to Free U.S. Hostage Soon, 'at All Costs'

Associated Press

Syria vowed Monday to free American journalist Charles Glass from kidnapers "at all costs."

Glass, 36, a native of Los Angeles and former ABC correspondent, was kidnaped last Wednesday along with Ali Osseiran, 40, the son of Lebanese Defense Minister Adel Osseiran. Fourteen men abducted the two, along with Osseiran's driver, in southern Beirut's seaside Ouzai suburb, a stronghold of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah (Party of God), Lebanon's most militant Shia Muslim faction.

State radio quoted Brig. Gen. Ghazi Kenaan, Syria's military intelligence chief in Lebanon, as saying: "I am here to free them. The problem will be resolved at all costs and I believe that will be accomplished soon."

Meets With Berri

Kenaan and Nabih Berri, the leader of the Shia Muslim Amal militia, met for an hour at the militia chief's heavily fortified home in Muslim West Beirut. Neither would speak with reporters afterward.

Sources in Amal, which is allied with Syria, said the Syrian command in Beirut has told the kidnapers to free their captives by sundown today or "we will take whatever measures other than peaceful negotiations" to free them.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said that information obtained by the United States showed Hezbollah was responsible for kidnaping Glass and Osseiran.

Meanwhile, eight people were killed in factional gunfights in Beirut slums where many of 25 foreign hostages are believed held.

Fighting in Slums

Police said 17 people were wounded during fighting in the Shia Muslim slums of Ghobeiri, Hay Madi and Haret Hreik between the Mokdad Shia clan and supporters of Akel Hamieh, Amal's military commander. Neither faction has been linked to abductions of the foreigners.

In another development, ABC News quoted Shia sources in Beirut as saying that two of the Americans kidnaped by Lebanese extremists have been placed on trial in Iran, but the network did not identify them. It also said two Lebanese linked to kidnapers, identified as Imad Muniyeh and Abdul Hadi Hamadi, were in Iran to testify against the Americans.

There have been previous unconfirmed reports that foreign hostages had been taken to Iran, or that the captives were being held in the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. Iran denied the reports.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World