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    » 04/23/2013, 00.00

    SYRIA

    Two Orthodox Bishops abducted by an armed group on the road to Aleppo



    They are the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Aleppo, Msgr. Youhanna Ibrahim, and the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Iskenderun, Msgr. Boulos al-Yaziji. Their driver was killed on the outskirts of the city. State television accuses "terrorist groups", but the identity of the kidnappers is not clear. Some time ago, Msgr. Ibrahim had dennounced kidnappings and violence against Christians.

    Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Syriac Orthodox bishop of Aleppo, Msgr. Youhanna Ibrahim, and the Greek-orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Iskenderun, Msgr. Boulos al-Yaziji were kidnapped yesterday by a group of armed men on the road to Aleppo. The northern Syrian city has been the scene of clashes between rebels and regular soldiers for months.

    Bishop Ibrahim (left in photo), was travelling in his car with a deacon at the wheel and had collected Msgr. Yaziji from Bab al-Hawa, from a village near the Turkish border.

    Arriving at the outskirts of Aleppo, an armed group stopped the vehicle and forced the two prelates to get out of the car. After killing the deacon driver, they abducted the two bishops.

    The identity of the kidnappers is not yet clear. State TV accuses "armed terrorist group" of having kidnapped the two leaders, who were carrying out "humanitarian work in the countryside outside Aleppo". Abdulahad Steifo, a representative of the Syrian National Coalition, said that the two prelates were kidnapped on the road near Kafr Dael, after passing Bab al-Hawa, an area in rebel hands, but pointed out that the identity of the kidnappers "all possibilities are still open".

    Last September, Msgr. Ibrahim, speaking to Reuters, said that hundreds of Christian families had fled from Aleppo because of clashes between rebels and regular soldiers for control of the city. "Christians have been attacked and kidnapped in monstrous ways and their relatives have had to pay large sums of money for their release."

    Aleppo is Syria's largest city and the financial capital of the Middle Eastern country. Christians make up 10% of the population, the majority are Sunni Muslims. At present, the city is divided under the control of one or the other group and the population suffers persecution from both sides (see 28/03/2013: "Weariness and resignation" among the civilians in war-torn Aleppo).

    According to the UN, during the two years of civil war, at least 70 thousand people have been killed, one million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

     

     

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    See also

    23/04/2013 SYRIA
    Pope praying for the release of Mgrs Ibrahim and Boulos al-Yaziji
    Speaking to AsiaNews, Archbishop Jeanbart calls on the West to ends its "indifference". All Catholic bishops in Aleppo are "saddened and concerned" about the kidnapping of the two Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox prelates. Kidnappers are thought to be foreign fighters. Even the Orthodox Patriarchate in Moscow shares the pain of Syria's Churches.

    03/12/2013 SYRIA
    Nuncio in Damascus: Fate of Orthodox nuns kidnapped by Islamists still uncertain
    Msgr . Zenari tells AsiaNews: "There are no reports of the religious of St. Thecla in Maaloula , in the continuing clashes between the army and rebels ." Navi Pillay , UN High Commissioner for Human Rights : "Assad also guilty of war crimes ."

    03/05/2005 SYRIA
    Stronger ties with the Catholic Church, says Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim
    During Easter Mass in Damascus, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch urged the faithful to renew their faith in the future and expressed a desire for a single calendar for all Christians.

    08/05/2013 SYRIA
    Silence still shrouds kidnapped Orthodox prelates. Bishop of Aleppo: We’re groping in the dark
    For Msgr. Jeanbart the act is inexplicable. The only certain thing is that no one knows where Msgr. Yohanna Ibrahim and Msgr. Boulos Yaziji are. Money, food, school, and spiritual comfort for the people of Aleppo plagued by war, famine and despair. Moscow and Washington seek a path of dialogue between rebels and regime.

    10/08/2011 SYRIA
    New Syrian defence minister is Christian: a difficult role
    General Daud Rajhi is greek-orthodox. The Christian world has differing views of the president’s choice. Meanwhile, violence continues in the country. Assad reiterates after talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu: the security forces "will not cease to pursue terrorist groups."



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