13 greek -orthodox nuns kidnapped Dec. 2 in Maaloula along with some young orphans are still in the hands of the Islamist group al- Ahrar Qalamoun .
the video released December 6
by Al- Jazeera there has been no more
news of the women religious, despite the speculation about their possible
release as early as last December 9.
by AsiaNews, the Greek - orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch says it "does
not have any news on the condition of the nuns and three young orphans from
last direct contact was brief phone call to the Patriarch of Antioch Youhanna X
a few days after the kidnapping .
"Since then - said a source in
the Patriarchate - no one has been in touch with us and most of the news we
read on the internet like the rest of the world. We have seen the video
released by al- Jazeera , but we have no confirmation on the real condition of
the sisters, nor the reasons for their seizure and we think that the video is
unreliable and further investigation is required . "In the video the Ma'aloula
sisters appeared in good health and denied having been abducted , but only brought
to safety. The
women were filmed wearing their religious clothing, but without the traditional
Fierce fighting is being reported
from the region of Qalamoun between the army and Islamist insurgents . The
area which incorporates the small village of Yabrud is located about 50 km
kilometers northwest of Damascus and is one of the most important strongholds
of the rebels.
the mountainous area on the border with Lebanon, there
are several predominantly Christian villages such as Sadad and Hofar fallen
in recent months into the hands of Islamic extremists. Yesterday
the army regained control of Nabak , Deir Attiya and Qara .
point out that the rebels fighting against Assad belong to different factions,
each taking advantage of abductions for various purposes . Some
groups, such as the authors of the seizure of the Sisters of Maaloula, trying
to distance themselves from extremist and violent kidnappings say the abductions
are " humanitarian actions aimed at the protection of civilians ."
most intransigent and violent use the hostages as human shields and as a
bargaining chip in negotiations with Assad 's army . The
last case concerns two Spanish journalists , Javier Espinosa ( El Mundo ) and
Ricardo Garcia ( freelance photographer ) , who disappeared September 16 in the
province of Raqqa ( Turkish border ) , who are reportedly in the hands of the
militia of the Islamic State of Iraq and
the Levant . The
two were in Syria just to document the positive aspects of the rebellion
According to El Mundo - which in
recent months has silenced the news to deal with the kidnappers - the two
journalists were kidnapped along with four fighters of the Free Syrian Army. The
militiamen were released after 12 days, but not the two Spaniards . Today
Monica Prieto , wife of Javier Espinosa , has appealed to the kidnappers :
" Javier and Ricardo are not your enemies. Please honor the revolution
that they have protected and free them ."
are also several Syrian anti- Assad activists in the hands of groups of
kidnappers, not yet been identified . Today,
the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
announced the disappearance of Razan Zaytouna , winner of the Anna
Politkovskaya Award 2011.
woman was kidnapped in the suburb of Douma east of Damascus along with other
activists by armed men. They
raided the headquarters of the Centre for the documentation of human rights
violations linked to the rebellion. Zaytouna
had admitted receiving death threats from Islamic extremist groups .