Syria

Syrian Rebels Use Hostages for Leverage

Abduction appears part of a wider strategy shift to target perceived backers of Bashar Assad.

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With gunmen standing in the background, a Syrian rebel video purported Tuesday to show their latest captive: a lone Lebanese Shiite suspected of links to pro-regime Hezbollah whose abduction appears part of a wider strategy shift to target perceived backers of Bashar Assad.

A series of hostage-takings aimed at Assad's few remaining supporters — Iranians and Lebanese Shiites — has sought to both send a message about the rebels' reach and try to buff their image with seeming propaganda stunts such as captives praising their treatment and denouncing Assad's regime.