The Associated Press reports: The leader of Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hizbollah has appealed for calm after people blocked roads and burned tires in Beirut to protest the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese Shiites in neighboring Syria.
Tuesday’s abductions in Syria’s northern Aleppo province threatened to ignite dangerous sectarian tensions and fueled fears that Lebanon is getting drawn into the chaos next door.
The Lebanese were on their way home from a religious pilgrimage in Iran when Syrian rebels intercepted their vehicles, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said. The rebels abducted the 11 men and a Syrian driver. The women were released.
Lebanese security officials confirmed the kidnapping.
As the news of the kidnappings spread, residents of the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Shiite area, took to the streets and burned tires and blocked roads in protest. The leader of Hizbollah, a strong ally of the Syrian regime, appealed for calm and warned his followers against revenge attacks targeting Syrians.
“This is strictly prohibited,” Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
He said the Lebanese government must press for the pilgrims’ release.