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Kidnapped Orthodox Bishops ‘Remain Captured’ in Syria


The two kidnapped Orthodox bishops are still being held, according to sources that spoke to Al Jazeera, denying earlier reports that they had been released, and prompting calls by the international Christian community for their freedom.

” All we know is that they are still alive,” said Patriarch John X (Yazigi) of Antioch and All The East who is also the brother of one of the kidnapped bishops.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported on Monday that two bishops from the Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Churches, respectively, had been kidnapped at gunpoint in the village of Kafr Dael in Aleppo Province.

“An armed terrorist group kidnapped Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim, head of the Syriac Orthodox Church [in Aleppo] and Bishop Boulos (Paul) Yaziji, head of the Greek Orthodox Church [in Aleppo] while they were on humanitarian operations in the village of Kafr Dael in Aleppo Province,” SANA said.

Syrian state media reported that the two bishops were seized by rebels while they were on a humanitarian mission and their driver was killed.

The opposition accused the regime of being behind the abduction, which was condemned by Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Greek government has called for the release of two Syrian bishops.

In Athens, the foreign ministry set up a crisis management team to work for the clerics’ release.

Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, in Brussels for a Nato meeting, expressed the support of the Greek government to the patriarch of Antioch, John X, who heads the Greek Orthodox church in Syria.

“We’re going to talk about this [the kidnapping] – and not only about this dramatic development. The international community should work together in order to put an end to the drama of the Syrian people,” Avramopoulos said.

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