Nuns who were among a group freed after being held hostage by Islamist rebels in Syria, pray during a mass to celebrate their release at the Church of the Holy Cross in Damascus, on March 10, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA)
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Syria's information minister has disputed reports that 150 prisoners were freed in exchange for a group of kidnapped nuns, insisting that only 25 were in fact released.Opponents close to the exchange operation told AFP Monday that 141 women detainees and an unspecified "small" number of men had been released in exchange for 13 nuns and three civilian helpers kidnapped from the ancient Christian town in December.The footage detailed the nuns' journey to the site of the exchange, and at one point showed a Nusra Front fighter carrying an elderly nun who was too infirm to walk to a waiting vehicle.She said the kidnappers, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, had treated them well and denied rumors that the nuns were forced to remove their crosses.Their statements contrasted with the regime's blanket description of Syria's rebels as "terrorists".
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