Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

Nuns kidnapped in Syria's Maaloula set free

Published time: March 09, 2014 14:56
Edited time: March 10, 2014 19:17
Nuns, who were freed after being held by rebels for over three months, arrive at the Syrian border with Lebanon at the Jdaydeh Yaboos crossing, early March 10, 2014.(Reuters / Khaled al-Hariri )

Nuns, who were freed after being held by rebels for over three months, arrive at the Syrian border with Lebanon at the Jdaydeh Yaboos crossing, early March 10, 2014.(Reuters / Khaled al-Hariri )

Thirteen Lebanese and Syrian nuns who were kidnapped by rebels from the historic Christian town of Maaloula in December have been released and are now returning back to Syria after traveling through Lebanon.

The nuns arrived in the village of Jdeidet Yabus on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon late on Sunday.

Lebanon's intelligence agency, General Directorate of General Security, earlier confirmed that the Orthodox nuns were freed and taken into Lebanese custody.

The nuns were transferred to the village of Arsal, western Lebanon, earlier in the week, the source told Reuters on Sunday.

Their whereabouts and condition remained unknown for over three months, with first reports of the abduction emerging in early December as Islamist rebels seized the ancient quarter of Maaloula, a predominantly Christian town and UNESCO heritage site in eastern Syria.

"What the Syrian army achieved in Yabroud facilitated this process," Syrian Greek Orthodox Bishop Louka Khoury speaking to reporters at the border.

Kidnapped nuns arrive at Jdeidet Yabus on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon after an arduous nine-hour journey that took them from Yabrud into Lebanon, and then back into Syria on March 10, 2014.( AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

It is unclear exactly who had held the nuns and why they had been released now. However, the Syrian Observatory for human Rights, a monitoring group that largely sides with the opposition, identified the rebels who took the nuns as militants from the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda and one of the radical groups fighting President Bashar Assad’s forces. Lebanon’s General Security Chief the head of Qatari intelligence were reported to have played a major role in the negotiations.

Earlier, the Nusra Front had reportedly been demanding the release of 500 militants held in Syria and Lebanon in return for the nuns, according to the Al-Mayadeen satellite channel.

The Observatory, as well as a rebel source, said that the release of the nuns had been agreed as part of a prisoner swap with scores of women held in President Bashar al-Assad’s jails.

“The deal is for the release of 138 women from Assad’s prisons,” the rebel source said, Reuters reports.

Syrian Greek Orthodox Bishop Louka al-Khoury told reporters that the release marks progress. "What the Syrian army achieved in Yabroud facilitated this process," he said.

The nuns were kidnapped during fierce fighting between rebel forces and the Syrian army for control of strategic Damascus – Homs highway, which passes close to Maaloula.

Soon after being abducted, the nuns were moved to the nearby rebel-held town of Yabroud 20km away. The date for the release was reportedly set to coincide with a ceasefire in Yabroud, which began at sunset on Sunday.

Later in December a video of the nuns was broadcast on Al-Jazeera. A commentator said that the nuns were in good health and were waiting for their release to return to their convent in Maaloula, the Monastery of Mar Thekla. The video did not give any indication of where the nuns were.

Syria's Christian minority has sometimes found itself caught in the middle of the fighting in the civil war, which, having started in March of 2011, is quickly approaching its third year and is becoming increasingly sectarian.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma pose for a group photo with orphans at the Mar Taqla convent in Maalula, 60 kms north of Damascus, on April 27, 2008.(AFP Photo / STR)

Comments (33)

 

Robinson Joseph 01.04.2014 14:38

The Spirit of the Lord told Me while Prying the Justice Of Yahweh of Jesus Is Near Turkey Syria Armenia And Brack Obama! He is giving them time.

 

Suyanto Ng 01.04.2014 13:03

May Jesus walk with them throughout valley of dark, give them protection and peaceful in unGodly time. Orthodox Christian in suffer time, as majority of Christian Ortodox Russian shouldn't sitting duck, giving more support to SAA cause O-mamba do the same for terrorist.

 

Boy Interrupted.... 10.03.2014 17:52

George Rizk 10.03.2014 14:29

Most nuns I know dress in White? What is up with this black outfits? They look just like Muslim rag-heads except with a cross.

I wonder if they dress like so to please the Sunni terrorists

  


...a very ignorant statement...Orthodox Monks, Nuns, Priests, and Deacons have been wearing black before Islam even existed...Islam has always copied from Orthodoxy: art, chanting, prayers, clerical garb...
black indicates spiritual poverty, and dying to the world and its' bright colors, it is also cheap to dye, stains are easy to see on black so one has to be careful...

View all comments (33)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us

Follow us