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Syria accuses “Chechen terrorists”
of bishops' abduction

The Syrian government accused a Chechen armed group of the abduction of two Orthodox bishops in North Syria, state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

 

“An armed group led by Chechen terrorists belonging to Al-Nusra Front intercepted the car that the two bishops were travelling in in west of Aleppo while returning from a humanitarian mission. They assassinated their driver and took the two bishops to an unkown destination,” SANA quoted a Syrian Foreign Ministry letter as saying on Thursday.

 

According to the report, the letter was sent to the United Nations by the Syrian government.

 

The report came after Syriac and Greek Orthodox dioceses in Aleppo said on Tuesday that the kidnappers of the two clergymen are Chechen fighters.

 

Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim, head of Aleppo's Syriac Orthodox diocese and Boulos Yazigi, head of the Greek Orthodox diocese in the same city, were kidnapped on Monday near the Turkish border.

 

Syrian state news agency SANA had reported the kidnapping on Monday night, saying an "armed terrorist group" kidnapped the men in the village of Kafr Dael in Aleppo province.

 

Ibrahim was known for his role in mediating the release of kidnap victims, particularly in cases involving Christians, a church source said.

 

Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group fighting alongside Syrian rebels, has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

 

Christians account for around five percent of Syria's population, and have become increasingly vulnerable to attack and kidnappings in the lawlessness that has engulfed much of the country since March 2011.

An armed group led by Chechen terrorists belonging to Al-Nusra Front intercepted the car that the two bishops were travelling in.