Al-Qaeda militants may release Syrian nuns in hours

Al-Qaeda militants may release Syrian nuns in hours
Sun Mar 9, 2014 16:21:31

Syrian nuns who were abducted by extremist militants in Syria’s Maalula last year may be released today, Sunday, local and Syrian media outlets have reported.

Quoting Arab media sources, a pro-government Syrian news agency said a deal has been reached to release the nuns who, it said, were captured by the al-Nusra Front, a radical group fighting for al-Qaeda to topple government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Meanwhile, the Head of the Qatari Intelligence, Saadeh el-Kbeisi, arrived at the Rafik Hariri International Airport to reportedly follow up on the case.

Qatar has become a vital player in the ongoing negotiations to release the nuns along with Lebanon’s General Security Chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim who was successful in securing the release of 9 Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria last year.

Arsal Mayor Ali Hujeiri told the Lebanese Daily Star that he dispatched a delegate to Syria as part of the negotiating process, expressing hope of an imminent release.

Arsal is a Lebanese northeastern border town which supports Syrian opposition and borders Syria’s Qalamoun region, where rebel groups and government forces are battling for control.

Al-Mayadeen television reported that efforts were underway to prepare a ceremony in Damascus to welcome back the freed nuns.

Since their abduction in December, the nuns have appeared in two videos carried by the Qatari Al-Jazeera news channel.

News of their possible release comes days after Agence France Presses reported that negotiators have lost contact with a group of nuns.

"It is very likely that they have been transferred to the region between Yabroud and the Lebanese border" nearby, a source told AFP.

The nuns were reported missing last year after radical militants seized the town, which is located on the edge of the rugged Qalamoun region, about 60 kilometers northeast of the capital.

Maaloula’s historic value lies in its ancient Christian presence and the fact that some of its residents still speak Aramaic, the language Jesus Christ is believed to have spoken.


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