9 Lebanese return home after Syria kidnapping

DIAA HADID and BASSEM MROUE
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Relatives of nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims who were kidnapped by a rebel faction in northern Syria in May 2012, flash victory signs as they celebrate news of their relatives release, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013. Nine Shiite pilgrims from Lebanon kidnapped in Syria were freed late Friday night as part of a negotiated hostage deal that could see two Turkish pilots held by Lebanese militants released, officials said. The complicated three-way deal also potentially includes the release of female prisoners now held by the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

BEIRUT (AP) — Nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims held hostage in Syria for the past year and a half have arrived at Beirut's international airport.

That's according to a Lebanese security official. He spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday night as he wasn't authorized to speak publicly to journalists.

The release of the nine pilgrims was part of an ambitious three-way hostage release deal.

The deal also freed two Turkish pilots who were kidnapped by Lebanese gunmen in August as a means to pressure Turkey to help release the pilgrims.

It's unclear if the third part of the deal has been executed, which calls for the release several dozen women held in Syrian government jails. That was a key demand of Syrian rebels who were holding the Lebanese pilgrims.