Eight out of the nine Lebanese soldiers who had been held captive by the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) since 2014 are believed to have died, according to a statement by the head of the General Security agency.
The Lebanese army has located remains that are likely to belong to some of the abducted Lebanese soldiers, Major General Abbas Ibrahim announced on Sunday.
"We have removed the remains of six bodies. We are expecting the number to go up to eight," Ibrahim said, according to the Middle East Eye. "We believe that these remains belong to the soldiers."
The latter said that he is "almost certain that the case is closed," but the identities of the soldiers are yet to be confirmed through DNA testing.
This came hours after the Lebanese army declared a controversial ceasefire deal with the terrorist group along the border with Syria, in exchange for information on the missing soldiers.
The nine soldiers - Mohammad Youssef, Ibrahim Mughait, Khaled Hasan, Hussein Ammar, Mustafa Ali Wehbe, Ali al Masri, Seif Thebian, Abdel Rahim Diab and Ali Haj Mustafa al-Hasan - were abducted in August 2014, when the militant group overran the town of Arsal in northeast Lebanon.
The Lebanese Army had successfully forced out the IS militants to the nearby mountainous outskirts at the time.
Last week, a ceasefire deal was declared on the Syria-Lebanon border, leading to negotiations over the kidnapped soldiers.
According to the Daily Star, the deal allows IS fighters and their families to be evacuated from the border area into Syria's Deir Ezzor Province, which is mainly controlled by the terrorist group.
In light of the negotiations, Lebanese authorities located the remains that are believed to belong to eight out of the nine soldiers.
"It has not been confirmed yet that these remains belong to the military soldiers, although we are almost certain they are," the National News Agency quoted Ibrahim as saying.
The fate of the ninth soldier is still unknown.
Outlets were quick to defy media ethics
As per the national norm, several outlets raced to report the news, all the while disregarding media ethics and failing to take into consideration the feelings of the soldiers' loved ones.
Graphic photos of the bodies circulated on social media, as did fake news about the soldiers' fate.
"A very sad ending" ... The Lebanese are heartbroken and outraged
Serving a "low" government
People demand the prosecution of those responsible
"Those who allowed the soldiers to be held hostage should be prosecuted. The army cannot afford having more martyrs, whom the failed authority will forget once the cameras are turned off #The_Abducted_Soldiers"
Many objected to the terms of the deal
"Why don't they punish the murderers rather than allow them to flee towards Deir Ezzor? #The_Abducted_Soldiers"
"Negotiating [with] and allowing terrorists to leave safely after they killed the soldiers, is a scandal and a crime against the army and Lebanese dignity #The_Abducted_Soldiers"
"Shame on the country whose soldiers are returning in tombs while criminal terrorists are leaving in air-conditioned buses #The_Abducted_Soldiers"
Who will make it up to the soldiers' loved ones?
"Settlements regarding the soldiers' blood have been completed, but who will compensate for the martyrs' families?
Your blood is an honor and your sacrifices are [demonstrations of] loyalty #The_Abducted_Soldiers"