Thousands of angry mourners on Wednesday buried a Lebanese soldier beheaded by Islamic militants, rocking his flag-draped coffin and firing their guns into the air as they accused the government of neglect for failing to negotiate his release.
The furor over the gruesome death of Sergeant Ali Sayid, 29, underscores the grave challenges that face the ill-equipped Lebanese military as it fends off an unprecedented jihadi threat from Syria-based militants.
Around two dozen more members of the country’s security forces remain held captive by militants. They were seized in August when several groups, including the Islamic State group and Nusra Front, overran a Lebanese border town, killing and kidnapping soldiers and policemen.
The government was racing to try and free the remaining captives amid anger and fears that the army’s morale may erode as their captivity lingers.
“He was betrayed by all the politicians, all of them! By parliamentarians and officials and by the country!” Sgt. Sayid’s uncle, Ahmad Sayid, shouted during the funeral in the northern Lebanese town of Fnaydek, in a tearful speech carried on Lebanese television.