Al-Qaida-linked militant group, the Nusra Front, released a video Sunday of two Lebanese army soldiers the group is holding captive in Syria, in which they speak to their families by phone.
The Syria-based Nusra Front is demanding the release of Islamic militants who are in Lebanese detention, as well as money, in exchange for the approximately two dozen Lebanese soldiers and police they are holding in Syria. Qatar is mediating between the group and the Lebanon government.
The men were taken captive when Nusra Front militants from Syria crossed into the Lebanese border town of Arsal, killing and kidnapping soldiers and police.
Despite some public pressure for what is perceived to be a lack of concern over a hostage crisis, Lebanon has officially rejected an exchange deal, saying it would only encourage similar acts in the future.
“What was discussed in the video is silly and won’t deter us from pursuing our efforts,” Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said in a televised statement Sunday.
But Syria's foreign ministry says that Qatar is directly responsible for the continued kidnappings because of its role in negotiating settlements on behalf of the Islamist organization and that, in doing so, the Gulf country is supporting terrorism.
"Terrorists from the Nusra Front would not have committed the crime of kidnapping had it not been for direct support from Qatari forces," the ministry said in a statement.
Earlier this week, dozens of Fijian U.N. peacekeepers were released by the Nusra Front in Syria. The U.N. said that no ransom had been requested by the group and none had been paid.