A total of 12 nuns kidnapped by Syria’s radical rebels late last year have been released, a pro-Syrian government news network and Lebanese state media reported.
Thirteen nuns and three workers were kidnapped last November from their convent in the Christian town of Maloula, north of Damascus and taken to the nearby town of Yabroud where the terrorists have been fighting hard with Syrian government troops recently.
Public security director, Abbas Ibrahim, a general, said that no money was paid to secure the release of the nuns, adding that it was part of a deal in exchange for 150 females that the Syrian government was holding.
Senior Orthodox Bishop, Lucas Al-Khoury, said he stood on the Syrian side of the border Sunday hoping to greet the nuns, adding that the negotiations for their release took several months because the kidnappers “made false requests intended to stall the process.”
The Greek Orthodox figure, who often speaks out on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, added that the recent Syrian troop offensive on the opposition stronghold of Yabroud worked in favor of the nuns’ release.
Days after the kidnapping, SANA reported that armed terrorists took the nuns, implying that rebels fighting to oust al-Assad were behind the attack.
Reports say that the released nuns will be hosted in the Mariamieh Church in the capital, Damascus, where a religious mass is expected to be held to celebrate their freedom.
Nothing has been said concerning the remaining four persons still held in captivity.
Syrian forces have unleashed a wide-scale offensive over the past three weeks to recapture the key town, where more than 10,000 rebel fighters are believed to hide out.