Damascus, March 9: Twelve Syrian nuns kidnapped by Syrian rebels late last year have been released, media reported Sunday.
The released nuns will be hosted in the Mariamieh Church in capital Damascus, where a religious mass is expected to be held to celebrate their release, Xinhua reported citing the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV.
Earlier in the day, the al-Mayadeen TV said it had “information about a deal for today’s release of the kidnapped nuns of Maloula amid preparations for official reception of them in Damascus”.
Radical jihadi militants kidnapped the 12 nuns from their convent in the Christian town of Maloula, north of Damascus, and in December last year took the nuns to the nearby town of Yabroud, where they have been fighting hard with Syrian government troops recently.
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 be hiding.
As clashes are flaring up around Yabroud, media reports said communication with the kidnapped nuns had been cut off.
Yet, the arrival of the kidnapped nuns at the Syrian-Lebanese border is a sign that the nuns have been moved into Lebanon ahead of the Syrian military’s operation in Yabroud, which is bordering Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Abbas Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon’s security who is heading the mediation for the nuns’ release, said the decision to release the nuns has been taken and the matter will take some time due to logistical snags.