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Norway demands release of two kidnapped Syrian bishops

Posted by African Press International on April 29, 2013

“I am concerned about reports that the two top church leaders in Aleppo, Bishops Ibrahim and Yazaji, have been kidnapped. We have contacted the leader of the Free Syrian Army, and asked them to do all they can to find those responsible and ensure that the two bishops are released,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim, and the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo, Boulos Yazaji, have been kidnapped by an unknown armed group in Syria. They were abducted on their way from the Turkish border to the city of Aleppo.

“The two bishops are key leaders for Christians in Syria. The fact that church leaders are now being kidnapped shows just how relentless the civil war in Syria has become,” said Mr Eide.

The Norwegian authorities have contacted the head of the Free Syrian Army, General Salim Idris, and asked them to do all they can to find those responsible and ensure that the church leaders are released. There are a large number of armed groups in Syria that support different parties to the conflict. The Free Syrian Army is a network that includes most of the military opposition forces and cooperates with the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

“Christians in Syria are in a vulnerable position, and it is important for Syria’s future to avoid divisions between religious groups. I urge those responsible for this action to release the bishops immediately, and I also urge all those involved in the war to dissociate themselves from actions that target religious leaders,” said Mr Eide.




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