General Security Director General Major Abbas Ibrahim thanked the Syrian government and the Qatari leadership for their role in the release of 13 nuns and three housemaids who were kidnapped last year by Syrian rebels. « The Syrian leadership offered all the necessary [effort] to complete the deal of the nuns’ release,” Ibrahim tolf As-Safir newspaper in remarks published Monday. He also thanked the Qatari leadership “that followed up on the deal.”
Ibrahim also said that President Michel Suleiman had worked toward the nuns’ release.
“Suleiman followed up on all phases of the strenuous negotiations, and refused to offer any concessions that might infringe on the country’s sovereignty.” The General Security chief pledged to deploy the same effort to release Bishop Yuhanna Ibrahim, head of Aleppo’s Syriac Orthodox diocese, and Boulos Yaziji, head of the the city’s Greek Orthodox diocese. Ibrahim said that the kidnappers tried to change the deal at the last minute, in an attempt to get further concessions.
“We refused to surrender to more compromises,” he said. At midnight on Sunday, the nuns were released and turned over to Syrian authorities. A monitoring group said the release was secured in exchange for some 150 women prisoners being held in Syria’s regime jails. The 13 nuns and three maids were kidnapped from the famed Christian hamlet of Maalula and taken to the nearby rebel-held town of Yabrud, where they were held by Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front.