BEIRUT, JUNE 24 -- Two Lebanese men who were kidnaped along with an American television journalist one week ago were freed today, but their companion, former ABC correspondent Charles Glass, remained in the hands of his captors.
Ali Osseiran, 40, son of Lebanese Defense Minister Adel Osseiran, was released at dawn along the shore of the southern port city of Sidon. His driver also was freed.
Ali Osseiran would not meet with the press, but in a brief appearance on a balcony of the family home said he did not know Glass' whereabouts.
There were growing fears that Glass, 36, would become another hostage, the ninth American being held captive by Islamic fundamentalists in Lebanon, despite a Syrian effort to secure his release with the other two men kidnaped on June 17.
Subtle pressures by Syrian military intelligence quarters and veiled threats to Islamic fundamentalists of a Syrian advance on the southern suburbs of Beirut, a main stronghold for the Iran-backed Hezbollah, or Party of God, appeared to have failed.
After Ali Osseiran refused to meet journalists, members of the Osseiran family said Ali had been threatened. Some reports said he and his driver had been blindfolded throughout their ordeal.
There were conflicting accounts of how Osseiran had found his way to freedom. One nephew said he had been brought from the seafront Ouzai suburb by boat to Sidon, 23 miles south of Beirut. Disclosure by his sister Zeina that he had had to change clothes because he was drenched suggested he had swum or waded to the shore.
Other family members said he went "for a dip" while his driver brought home the car that had been intercepted by three carloads of men on June 17, a few hundred yards from a Syrian checkpoint.
Zeina Osseiran said her brother was "depressed, exhausted and needed to sleep."
Defense Minister Osseiran announced that the search for Glass would continue.
In Damascus, a Syrian official pledged that Syria would press for Glass' release. State-run Damascus radio reiterated familiar denunciations of "terrorist acts including the kidnaping of innocent people, diplomats and journalists" and warned that the kidnapers' "darkness is not of the impenetrable type and their hiding places are not beyond reach."
In an interview at his well-guarded stone villa hidden within a maze of back streets in the southern suburbs, Shiite cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, however, ruled out a Syrian deployment in his area.
Fadlallah, the highest Shiite Moslem religious authority in Lebanon and the purported spiritual guide of Hezbollah, called the entry of Syrian troops into the densely populated southern slums of Beirut "out of the question." He added, "The entry of the suburbs and all the complications it brings with it will exact a heavy toll and at least for now, there is no one who can pay it."
A source close to the Syrian military command in Lebanon said that after the abduction of Glass, Syrian troops took measures to restrict the movement of Hezbollah followers and Iranian revolutionary guards in Lebanon.
The Associated Press reported from Beirut:
Unidentified gunmen in the southern port city of Tyre killed a Lebanese soldier serving as liaison officer to the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon today, police said.
The gunmen fired from a speeding car at Capt. Kazem Darwish, 32, a Shiite Moslem, as he was driving an Army jeep to Tyre's military barracks on the city's southern edge, a police report said.
Darwish served as a liaison officer coordinating efforts with the nine-nation United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the report added without further elaboration.