A terrorist group calling itself the Free Qalamoun Brigades has claimed to have kidnapped 12 nuns from a convent in Syria and is demanding a hostage-swap for their release.
“The nuns are in a safe place, but they will not be released until after several demands have been implemented, most notably the release of 1,000 Syrians held in the prisons of the Syrian government,” the group’s spokesman, Mohannad Abu al-Fidaa, said in comments to pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat published Friday.
Fidaa said the group’s demands were conveyed to the Syrian government through the Vatican after establishing contact between the head of the Mar Takla monastery, Mother Pelagia Sayyaf, and the Vatican by a satellite-operated phone.
The nuns along several orphans were feared kidnapped on Monday after militants, including insurgents from the Nusra Front, recaptured the Christian town of Maaloula, located north of Damascus, from Assad’s forces after three days of heavy clashes.
It could not be confirmed whether the nuns had been abducted or evacuated for their own safety. It was also not immediately clear whether orphans whom the nuns looked after were taken from the convent
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