Two kidnapped bishops released in Syria: Official


A file picture taken on Feb. 10, 2013 shows Syrian Bishop Boulos Yaziji (seated-L), head of the Greek Orthodox church in Aleppo, during the enthronement in Damascus of his brother Yuhanna X Yazigi (seated-R) as the Patriarch of Antioch. An armed group kidnapped Bishop Boulos and another bishop, Yuhanna Ibrahim, head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, on April 22, 2103. They were reported freed the next day.


Louai Beshara

Two prominent Syrian bishops who spoke out for religious tolerance amid the ravages of war were released Tuesday, a day after being kidnapped by unknown captors, reported BBC News.

Syrian state media accused "terrorists" — a term meant to reference the armed rebel movement — of kidnapping the two high-ranking Aleppo churchmen, according to Reuters

The Syrian regime is in the midst of an all-out war with the rebels, who are trying to overthrow the ruling Assad family in a conflict that has left an estimated 70,000 people dead over the past two years. 

Syria's SANA news agency said Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi were captured by "a terrorist group" in the village of Kfar Dael on Monday. 

After their release, the bishops were "on their way to the patriarchy in Aleppo," Bishop Tony Yazigi told Reuters in Damascus.

Both had reportedly spoken out about the threat to religious peace in Syria. 

"Christians have been attacked and kidnapped in monstrous ways and their relatives have paid big sums for their release," Ibrahim told Reuters last fall, while Yazigi warned in January:

"What is the [Arab] spring without the diversity and richness of colors in comparison with the haze...of winter? Diversity is richness while monochromatic uniformity is a ticking bomb that kills its owner."

Christians account for less than 10 percent of Syria's 23 million people, according to Reuters