BEIRUT, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian authorities released Thursday a Lebanese Salafist seized last November in an ambush by the Syrian government troops near the border with Lebanon.
Lebanon's General Security said in a communique that Hassan Srour's release came after contacts between the department's chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim and the Syrian authorities.
Some 21 Lebanese Islamist fighters were ambushed late November of 2012 by Syrian soldiers in the Syrian border town of Tall Kalakh. Reports said they were Salafists from northern Lebanon, who infiltrated into Syria to fight alongside the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) in an attempt to topple President Bashar al- Assad.
A number of the fighters were killed, some sought refuge with the FSA, while about three others were arrested by the Syrian side.
Last December, Syria handed over to Lebanon in three batches several bodies of those killed in the ambush, including a Palestinian. Among them was the body of Hussein Srour, Hassan's brother.
Before returning to Lebanon, Srour told Syrian TV that Salafist cleric Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal had asked the Salafists to head to Syria to fight the government troops.
"We came from Wadi Khaled in Lebanon toward Syrian territory, carrying bombs and machine guns. We crossed the border at night," he said, adding that they "headed off in the direction of Qalaat al-Hosn in Homs province ... But clashes broke out. I fled but later in the morning I was arrested."