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ICC Note: The fate of Christian leaders kidnapped in Syria remains unknown. A group of nuns taken from the city of Ma’aloula are no longer in contact with a group that has been negotiating for their release. There has also been no word on the status of Orthodox bishops who have also been kidnapped in Syria. These are just a few of the many Christians who have been explicitly targeted in the middle of the nearly three-year-old war.
By: Paul Dakiki
03/07/2014 Syria (AsiaNews) – The kidnappers belong to Al Nusra Front, linked to Al Qaeda. In addition to the release of political prisoners they are demanding food for the rebels and that the Syrian army clear out from all Christian sites. No news on fate of abducted Orthodox bishops, or Fr. Dell’Oglio. All humanitarian corridors blocked.
A group of negotiators who tried to free the 13 Ma’aloula nuns, kidnapped last year, have lost contact with the kidnappers who have probably transferred the nuns to a new hiding place. Meanwhile, the situation in Syria is becoming increasingly hard for the population, devastated by hunger. Some experts estimate that the war between the Assad regime and the rebels will last at least another 10 years.
The 13 nuns were kidnapped last December along with three girls who were their guests and moved from the Ma’aloula monastery to Yabrud , a town under the control of the rebels in the north- east of Damascus, near the border with Lebanon . The kidnappers released two videos of their captives. In exchange for their release, they initially demanded freedom for all women prisoners in Syria , then for all political prisoners. Recently they stepped up their demands to include food for the city under rebel rule and the army to clear out from all Christian religious sites .
According to some sources, the rebels belong to a group affiliated to Al Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al Qaeda, whose leader is Abu Malek al- Kuwaiti .
AsiaNews sources in Damascus confirm that there ha been no news of the sisters, nor of the two Orthodox bishops abducted last April, nor Italian Jesuit priest Fr. Paolo dall’Oglio .
The situation in the country has steadily worsened after the failure of peace talks in Geneva.

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