Location of Two abducted Syrian bishops now known

Oct 30th, 2013 | By | Category: Weekly Washington Updates

Lebanese Security Chief Ibrahim says case of abducted bishops more complicated

VIA: The Daily Star

BEIRUT: General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said Tuesday he knew the whereabouts of the two bishops kidnapped in Syria last April, describing their case as more complicated than that of the recently released Lebanese pilgrims.

“About a month ago, I contacted an individual who told me where the bishops Paul Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim are [being held], and based on this, I began negotiations [to win their release],” Ibrahim said.

Kidnapped Syrian Bishops

Kidnapped Syrian Bishops

Ibrahim made his remarks during a series of regular meetings with General Security officers, according to a statement from the agency.

“We are now indirectly in contact with the kidnappers, and that is a major development that we will use as a starting point to reach our desired results,” he added, saying his agency’s most important task today was to secure the release of the bishops.

But Ibrahim did not specify a time frame for the release of the two prelates.

Yazigi, Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop and Ibrahim, the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop, were abducted in April by armed men near the Turkish border with Syria.

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The release of nine Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels for 17 months earlier in October boosted hopes that the return of the bishops would be imminent. Ibrahim negotiated the release of the captives on behalf of the government.

They were kidnapped in the Azaz district of Aleppo in May 2012 returning from a pilgrimage to Iran. They were released as part of a swap for two Turkish pilots kidnapped in Lebanon in August and a number of Syrian female detainees held by Damascus.

Last week, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid al-Thani vowed to exert efforts to help secure the bishops’ release during talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and Ibrahim in Doha. Qatar mediated the release of the Lebanese.

Ibrahim said the circumstances of the bishops’ abduction were more complex than those of the Azaz hostages.

Ibrahim said the kidnappers of the pilgrims were known because they had appeared on television. This had placed the rebels in a difficult position, the General Security chief said.

“We knew who we were negotiating with. The kidnappers appeared on TV and were visited by Lebanese journalists. They could not do as they pleased with the hostages, or they would have been marked as criminals by the local, regional and international community,” he said.

“But the case of the bishops is different because no one has claimed responsibility for it yet and [during the abduction] the priest [who was driving the bishops] was killed immediately to eliminate witnesses,” Ibrahim said, adding that it took four months to locate the bishops and the party holding them. Read more
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)


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