BEIRUT: The head of Lebanon's General Security will head Saturday to Qatar seeking the Arab state’s assistance in the case of a group of nuns seized earlier this month in Syria, a security source said.
“Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim will head [Saturday] to Qatar as part of a scheduled visit during which he will address with officials the case of the nuns, the abducted bishops [bishops Paul Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim] and security coordination between Beirut and Doha,” the source said.
In October, Doha played a key mediating role in the release of a group of Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped a year earlier in Aleppo, northern Syria.
Earlier this week, 13 nuns were taken by Syrian rebels from their convent in the historic Syrian town of Maaloula. The rebels are believed to have taken the women to the nearby town of Yabroud, where they are reportedly staying in the home of a Christian family.
In a video aired on Al-Jazeera Friday, the Orthodox nuns said fierce shelling and bombardment had forced them to depart their convent in Maaloula.
Several of the nuns denied that they were being held hostage.
“A group brought us here and protected us, and we’re very, very happy with them,” one of the nuns says in the video aired by the Qatar-based television station.
Anti-government activities from the Syrian General Revolution Commission also denied Friday reports that a rebel group had demanded the Syrian regime release hundreds of female detainees in exchange for the release of the nuns.
In April, armed men kidnapped Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim while traveling to Aleppo from the Turkish border. Efforts have been ongoing to secure their release.