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ICC Note: According to the most recent reports, Father Jallouf and the 20 others who were also kidnapped with him have been released. He is reportedly under house arrest at the convent, though the details of this arrangement are not entirely clear. The threat of kidnappings in Syria remains high amidst the conflict that has persisted for more than three years.

10/10/2014 Syria (AFP) – A priest and 20 other Christians kidnapped by Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria this week were released Thursday, the Franciscan order said.

“Father Hanna Jallouf has been released this morning… He is under house arrest at the convent of Qunyeh,” the order said, without providing further details.

A Franciscan spokeswoman later confirmed to AFP that the other captives were also released.

Rebels linked to Al-Nusra Front — Al-Qaeda’s Syria branch — abducted Jallouf and the others Sunday in the northwestern village of Qunyeh, near the Turkish border, the order said.

A local activist said Al-Nusra had been trying to take over some of the Franciscan properties in Qunyeh, prompting Jallouf to complain to an Islamic religious court last week.

Al-Nusra rebels have seized several Christian and Muslim villages in the area during the course of Syria’s three-and-a-half-year civil war.

The Franciscans, a Roman Catholic religious order that has operated in the country for more than eight centuries, have 19 people working there. They have been working in Qunyeh for 125 years, the activist said.

Kidnapping is rife in Syria, with all sides accused of abducting people.

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