A new video showing the religious sisters kidnapped from the Christian town of Ma'aloula 55 km north of Damascus, was released yesterday afternoon by Qatar based Al Jazeera television.
abducted December 2 from the Greek - orthodox monastery of St. Thecla, and
so far all that was known was that they had been transported to Yabroud, in the
north, by a group of rebels.
the video, the sisters do not speak, but a voiceover says: "They say they
are in good health, have not been abused and are waiting to be released to
return to their convent". Nothing
is said about where they are being held but they are described as having been "kidnapped"
and that the sisters are both "Syrian and Lebanese".
a video also released by the Qatari television on December 6, the sisters
said they had not been kidnapped, but carried from Maaloula to escape the
bombing in order to ensure their safety and that they would return in a couple
the time Syrian media had accused the rebels of using the nuns as human shields,
and now it is evident that instead they will use them as a bargaining chip.
the last sequence of yesterday's video the voiceover says that "the sisters
would like to thank everyone who trying to obtain their release and demand the
release of all detainees".
abduction was claimed by the Islamist brigades of al- Ahrar Qalamoun who
demanded the release of "a thousand women detained in Syrian prisons of
the Syrian regime" in exchange for the release of the sisters.
Francis and Orthodox bishops have appealed for the nuns' release. Lebanese
authorities and the Emir of Qatar has also tried in vain to secure their liberation.
Christian majority town, is famous for being one of the few remaining places where
locals still speak the ancient Aramaic, the language of Jesus' time.
However in the past few months it has been
the scene of a long battle between the army and rebels. The
city was invaded several times by Islamist insurgents who have desecrated
churches and monasteries, and killed several Christians.