The ''Free Qalamoun'' brigade claimed responsibility for the recent abduction of the 11 Syrian and Lebanese Orthodox nuns and 3 lay women from the Saint Tecla Orthodox monastery in the predominantly Christian town of Maaloula, in the southern Qalamoun region on Monday 2 December. They are said to be seeking the release of 1,000 female prisoners by the Syrian government. A spokesman for the kidnappers said the swap offer is being made jointly with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat an Nusra militia. It was claimed the proposal has already been transmitted to the regime via the Vatican ''after Saint Tecla Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf spoke to the Holy See on a satellite phone''.
Qatar & Al Jazera
A video released Friday shows the group of nuns abducted by Syrian rebels from the town of Maaloula thanking their captors for "protecting" them. The opposition supporting news channel Al Jazera Arabic (a Qatari owned TV station) aired the footage, It is obvious the video was obtained under duress. It was noticeable in the video that none of the nuns were wearing their pectoral crosses as would be normal for nuns of the Eastern Church. In the mean time a high ranking Lebanese security official was dispatched, by the President of Lebanon, to Qatar to seek Qatar’s assistance in negotiating the release of the nuns on account of the Emirate's strong links with some of the armed opposition groups in Syria.
"Our appeal to the international community: Although we are grateful for all the feelings of solidarity, we no longer need denunciation, condemnations, or "feelings of concern" about the assault on human dignity that is occurring, because all this is engraved in the conscience of every one of us. Today, however, we need concrete actions, not words!"
Read a transcript of the full appeal here
H.B. Patriarch John Xof Antioch