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Syria: 9 Lebanese Shi'a Released

Lebanon says nine Lebanese Shi’ite citizens kidnapped by rebels in Syria more than one year ago have been freed.

Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said the Lebanese had been taken from Syria to neighboring Turkey, and would return soon to Lebanon.

The group was abducted in May, 2012, while traveling from a pilgrimage to Shi'ite religious sites in Iran.

In a related development, officials said two Turkish Airlines pilots who were abducted in Lebanon in August are close to being freed.

The pilots were reportedly kidnapped in a bid to apply pressure for the release of the nine Lebanese in Syria.

Shi'ite-led Iran and the Shi'ite Lebanese Hizballah militia back the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war against the rebels, who are backed by Turkey.

Based on reports from Reuters, AP and AFP