Two Aleppian bishops were kidnapped reportedly by Syrian rebels in the outskirts of the city Monday evening, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported. The bishops are Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Pavlos (Pavlos Yazigi) and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Ioannis (Yohanna Ibrahim) are the victims of kidnapping. The two clerics were in the area for carrying out humanitarian work.
The driver of Aleppo Archbishop and the deacon of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo and the Syrian-Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, were killed during the attack.
The NNA reported that the men were driving from a village near the Turkish border to Aleppo. As they approached the city, they were met with an armed group that forced them out of the car.
The bishops are believed to be alive and efforts are ongoing to secure their release.
UPDATE I: On Tuesday morning, local media reported, it could not be confirmed, whether it were Syrian rebels who kidnapped the two bishops.
Below the latest update from Aljazeera:
State media in Syria have reported that two Syrian bishops who were carrying out humanitarian work in the northern province of Aleppo have been kidnapped.
SANA news agency said the Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, were seized on Monday in the village of Kfar Dael.
A Syriac member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Abdulahad Steifo, said the men had been kidnapped on the road to Aleppo from the rebel-held Bab al Hawa crossing with Turkey.
Christians make up less than 10 percent of the country’s 23 million people and, like other religious minorities, many have been wary of the mainly Sunni Muslim uprising against Assad, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.
Ibrahim had gone to collect Yazigi from the rebel-held Bab al-Hawa crossing because he had crossed there several times before and was familiar with the route. The two men were driving to Aleppo when they were kidnapped.
Asked who was behind their abduction, Steifo said:”All probabilities are open.” (read full story here)
UPDATE II: Greece’s News Agency ANA-MPA reported on Tuesday afternoon, reported “that Chechen Jihadists were behind the kidnapping of the two bishops, according to Archdiocese of the Syriac-Orthodox Church.”
UPDATE III: Media reported on Tuesday afternoon, that the two bishops were set free. Read here.