BEIRUT, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Lebanese government stressed on Thursday that the safety and lives of the soldiers and policemen held captive by Islamist militants following the clashes with Syrian Islamist gunmen in the border town of Arsal is not for compromise.
Information Minister Ramzi Jreij told reporters following the cabinet meeting held by Prime Minister Tammam Salam that "the cabinet will not carry out an exchange for the captives and it will contact influential countries to help it resolve the case."
He revealed that influential countries had been contacted previously in order to ensure the safety of the recent batch of soldiers who were released by the kidnappers. Further contacts will be carried to release the remaining captives, he added.
The cabinet also tasked a ministerial crisis committee with following up on the case. The minister also stressed the need to maintain a united stance in the cabinet over the issue.
Army soldiers and members of the Internal Security Forces were abducted by Syrian Islamist gunmen who infiltrated the border town of Arsal and engaged in bloody gun battles with the military on Aug. 2 following the arrest of Imad jomaa, one of al-Qaida linked "al-Nusrta Front."
The jihadists have called on the Lebanese government to release Islamist inmates from the country's largest prison in Roumieh in exchange for the captive security personnel.