In a video released by Hezbollah’s War Media Center and later re-broadcasted on Al Manar, the five militants are seen conducting a press conference for various Lebanese news organizations. The five are dressed in stoles featuring the Shiite jihadist group’s logo and the face of its leader, Hassan Nasrallah. One militant, which was previously featured in HTS media, expressed thanks to various parties for their release.
“We say thank you to Doctor Bashar Hafez al Assad and the Syrian Arab Army who was behind our liberation,” he stated. He continued by saying, “Additionally, we thank the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran who was prominent in this agreement.” He ended the short speech by adding that the prisoners had “no doubt that the Islamic Resistance would liberate us.”
The five Hezbollah members were freed as part of a ceasefire deal with HTS militants (which includes al Qaeda’s branch in Syria) in the Jurud Arsal area of Lebanon. The HTS militants agreed to release the five prisoners, as well as retreat with their families to Idlib in northwestern Syria, in exchange for Hezbollah stopping its offensive. The deal was confirmed by Lebanon’s National News Agency as being brokered by Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanon’s General Security intelligence agency. [See Threat Matrix report, Hezbollah announces ceasefire with Sunni jihadists near Arsal.]