After the Iranian Press TV reported, quoting a tribal source, that the 5 Iranians kidnapped in Homs in December were moved to North Lebanon, a Lebanese source confirmed to the Arab Digest that armed smugglers have indeed attempted to transfer them to a safe haven, but it is unclear whether they succeeded or not.
While the Lebanese interior minister Marwan Charbel denied, the report was further corroborated by the reported death of three men in Akkar, Northern Lebanon. The three alleged casualties are Maher Derbas (Lebanese from Mashta Hassan), Khaled Nasser Saleh (Lebanese, from Mashta Hamoud, Northern Lebanon), Mujahed Othman Dandashi (Syrian, Lebanese mother). No bodies were received, but these three individuals have disappeared from the towns for a while now, according to residents.
Mashta Hassan, Mashta Hammoud and Wadi Khaled are three towns on Lebanon's Northern border with Syria; these towns' economy heavily depends on smuggling across the border that is marked by the Great Southern River. The towns are also known for having a Salafist presence. Though separated by an international border, these three towns have strong connections to the other side, maintained by family relations, the smuggling business, common intermarriages and similar culture/accent.
Mujahed Dandashi, the Syrian casualty, descends from a family that is split between the two sides of the border. Dandashis used to guard the northern route for the Ottomans traveling to Turkey.
(Video of the Iranian hostages; the Iranian government says they are engineers working on an electricity project, while the captors say they were snipers)