BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Abducted Syrian bishops in good health, held by rebels

Former President Amin Gemayel, center, meets Bishop George Saliba with a Delegation in Beirut, Wednesday, May 8, 2013. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: Acting President of the Syrian National Council George Sabra said Wednesday that the two Greek Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria are being held in a small village north west of Aleppo by a rebel group.

In a telephone conversation with Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel, Sabra said that Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim were both in good health and still in the custody of a small group of rebels in the Syrian town of Bshaqtin.

“The bishops are in good health and are being held by a small group in a town called Bshaqtin, 20 kilometers north west of Aleppo,” Sabra told Gemayel who was in a meeting with Syriac Orthodox bishops at the Kataeb Party’s headquarters in Saifi, according to Gemayel’s office.

Yazigi and Ibrahim were kidnapped last month by armed men while they were on their way to Aleppo from the Turkish border.

The meeting in Saifi was attended by Mount Lebanon’s Syriac Orthodox Bishop George Saliba, Beirut Bishop Daniel Koriyeh, Syriac League President Habib Efram and the Deputy Bishop of Aleppo Joseph Shabo.

Bishop Saliba also spoke to the Syrian opposition leader over the phone and urged him to secure the release of the kidnapped bishops.

When contacted by The Daily Star contacted, Sabra declined to comment on the matter.

Speaking during the meeting in Saifi, Gemayel said that the abduction of the two bishops constitutes a bad message to the Christian communities in Syria and the region.

For his part, Saliba said that fear might overwhelm Christians in the region if the bishops are not released. “I don’t know whether the Christians would leave the region because of this or stay and react to this kidnapping in a way that we do not want,” Saliba added.

 

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