AFP (France), THE NEW YORK TIMES, BLOOMBERG NEWS (U.S.), AL JAZEERA (Qatar)
LEBANON - Persian Gulf states urged their citizens to leave Lebanon on Thursday after more than 30 members of the Syrian opposition movement were abducted by a Lebanese Muslim Shiite clan, in retaliation for the kidnapping of one of its members in Damascus.
Bloomberg News reports that officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait issued warnings to their nationals in Lebanon to leave the country immediately.
Lebanon is a popular vacation spot for tourists from the Persian Gulf, and the move could hurt the Lebanese economy.
The Gulf States acted after the powerful Lebanese Shiite Meqdad family captured over 30 Syrians in Lebanon on Wednesday, as reported by the New York Times. A family spokesman told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation that it was also holding a Turkish national and threatened to capture Saudis and Qataris, according to Bloomberg News.
Several Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have actively supported the Syrian uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which started in March last year and has killed 21,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Al Jazeera reports that the Meqdad clan acted to secure the release of one of its kinsmen held by Syrian rebels in Damascus. The rebels claimed the man was a sniper from Hezbollah sent to help President Assad, a staunch ally of the militant Shiite Islamic group. The Meqdad family refuted the accusations.
Also on Wednesday night, a Paris-Beirut Air France flight landed in Damascus for refueling as it was rerouted to Larnaca in Cyprus. Air France decided to reroute the flight because of security concerns about the Beirut airport, according to the AFP. The road to the airport was blocked by a protest by families of Lebanese held in Syria.