BEIRUT: Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim met Saturday with Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X Yazigi and discussed the ongoing efforts to secure the release of two Syrian bishops.
Ibrahim, the head of General Security, returned Friday from Turkey where he followed up on the negotiation process concerning the release of the bishops as well as a group of nine Lebanese hostages held in Syria.
Speaking to reporters in the northern city of Tripoli about the Lebanese hostages, Ibrahim reiterated that their release is imminent, saying: "Things are heading toward a solution in the short run."
According to the National News Agency, Ibrahim informed Yazigi about recent developments in the case of the prelates, saying that the matter could be resolved in the near future.
The Head of the Syriac League Habib Afram told An-Nahar in remarks Saturday that "there was hope of the bishops being released before the Eid al-Adha holiday” which starts Oct. 15.
Ibrahim has been tasked with resolving both cases and has reportedly been in contact with Syrian, Qatari, Turkish and Palestinian sides to secure the release of both groups.
Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim were kidnapped on April 22 by armed men while en route to Aleppo from the Turkish border.
They are reportedly being held by a small group of rebels in the Syrian town of Bshaqtin, 20 kilometers northwest of Aleppo.
Eleven Shiite Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by rebels while making their way from Iran to Syria on May 22 of last year. Two have been released so far.
The release of the Lebanese could also see a release of two Turkish Airlines pilots kidnapped in Beirut on Aug. 9 in retaliation for the abduction of the pilgrims.
A previously unknown group has claimed responsibility for the Turks' kidnapping, demanding the release of the pilgrims in exchange for pilot Murat Akpinar and his co-pilot Murat Agca.