Lebanon's Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi revealed on Monday that his ministry had commuted sentences Lebanese courts had recently handed to some Islamist figures from death to life imprisonment.

The minister said the move was taken soon after the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISI)), which had captured some Lebanese soldiers in early August, threatened to slaughter these soldiers.

"We have commuted the sentences handed Islamist prisoners from death to life imprisonment," Rifi told the official Lebanese news agency.

The brother of one of the captured soldiers said on Monday that he had received a phone call from an ISIL member early on Monday, who threatened to slaughter all the captured troops after two hours.

ISIL had captured nine Lebanese soldiers in early August during violent clashes with the Lebanese army in the eastern town of Arsal, on the border with Syria.

The radical movement had since killed two troops.

The ISIL member speaking on the phone to the brother of the captured soldier said he and fellow organization members would slaughter the seven soldiers if the Lebanese government had not revoked sentences handed on Friday to five Islamist prisoners.

A short time later, however, another ISIL member told the same family that the organization would give the Lebanese government time until 2:00 GMT to revoke the sentences, or he and fellow militants would cut off the heads of the seven soldiers.

Soon after this news was broken, the relatives of the captured troops escalated their protests outside the cabinet building in central Beirut. These family members have been staging a sit-in outside the cabinet building for several weeks now.

The wife of one of the captured soldiers said she preferred to set herself on fire to seeing her husband being slaughtered by ISIL.

Al-Nusra Front, another Islamist movement fighting against the regime in Syria, also captured 17 troops during the same clashes with the Lebanese army in early August.

The Arsal clashes proved that Lebanon was not immune from the violence raging in neighboring Syria for almost four years now.

Rifi said when it came to death sentences, Lebanese law made it possible for the president of the republic or parliament to issue pardons.

He said the courts would speed up the trials of Islamist prisoners in Lebanese jails.

Anadolu Agency