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Jumblatt praises release of Syria nuns

Kidnapped nuns arrive at Jdeidet Yabus on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon after an arduous nine-hour journey that took them from Yabrud into Lebanon, and then back into Syria on March 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt praised Monday the weekend prisoner swap deal between Damascus and Syrian rebels, but said there were hundreds of thousands still being held in Syrian regime prisons.

Thirteen nuns and three helpers were freed late Sunday after three months in captivity by Syrian rebels in exchange for the release by the Syrian government of about 150 female prisoners following Lebanese and Qatari mediation.

“As I welcome the release of the Maaloula nuns who spent months in captivity, we need to raise questions about the small number of prisoners released by the Syrian regime,” Jumblatt wrote in his weekly Al-Anbaa column.

The nuns and their aides were kidnapped from their monastery in the historic town of Maaloula in Syria on Dec. 3.

Jumblatt said “hundreds of thousands” were still being held in prisons or detention centers in Syria “not to mention those who were liquidated.”

Likewise, Jumblatt condemned the kidnapping Friday of a 9-year-old schoolboy in east Lebanon.

Michel Saqr was returned safely to his family early Saturday following Lebanese Army raids at locations in the Bekaa Valley village of Brital, home to some of the country’s most-wanted criminals.

Jumblatt called on all security agencies to exercise maximum vigilance to combat the “kidnapping phenomenon” and arrest the abductors.

The Druze political leader also “saluted” women activists in Lebanon on International Women’s Day for their contributions to the struggle for education, work and productivity.

 

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