Lebanon top leaders
welcome nuns’ release

Released nuns. (AFP/Louai Beshara)

BEIRUT – Lebanon’s top political and religious leaders welcomed the release of the Lebanese and Syrian nuns and expressed their hope that the two bishops who were abducted in Aleppo last year be released as well.


President Michel Suleiman on Monday voiced his relief at the freeing of the thirteen nuns and three housemaids, hoping that Bishops Boulos Yazigi and Yuhanna Ibrahim be released as well in the near future.


The head of state also thanked Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani as well as the Syrian and Qatari states for the efforts they exerted to secure the nuns’ release.


In turn, Speaker Nabih Berri phoned Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Yuhanna X Yazigi to congratulate him for the “safe return of the nuns.”


He also thanked General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim for his efforts which led to the freeing of the hostages.


Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros al-Rai congratulated Yazigi for the success of the hostages swap operation.


He expressed his gratitude for Ibrahim’s efforts and those of the Qatari mediators, and voiced his hope that these endeavors would persist until the kidnapped archbishops be release as well.


At midnight on Sunday, the thirteen nuns and three housemaids were released and turned over to Syrian authorities.


A monitoring group said the release was secured in exchange for some 150 women prisoners being held in Syria's regime jails.


The nuns and maids were kidnapped from the famed Christian hamlet of Maalula in December and taken to the nearby rebel-held town of Yabrud, where they were held by Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front.


Meanwhile, Archbishop Yuhanna Ibrahim -head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo- and Archbishop Boulos Yazigi -head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Aleppo- remain hostages after they were kidnapped in a village in northern Syria in late April 2013.

Released nuns. (AFP/Louai Beshara)

Suleiman thanked Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani as well as the Syrian and Qatari states for the efforts they exerted.