Syrian insurgents have finally released the 13 nuns and three attendants who were kidnapped from a Greek Orthodox monastery in November.
The release of the Syrian nuns was part of a hostage swap. In return for the nuns’ release, rebel fighters also released a group of women and some children. The Syrian government appeared to confirm rumors that the government has been detaining children and women who are relatives of those who are suspected of fighting for the opposition.
The release of the nuns was full of suspense up to the last minute. The nuns, clad in black, travelled to a pro-rebel town called Arsal in order to be received by the Lebanese officials. Government supporters and reporters waited for several hours at the border without a single nun in sight. On Monday morning, the nuns finally appeared at the border.
Mother Pelagia Sayaf, who heads the Mar Taqla monastery, says that they were treated very well and were never harassed during the three-month ordeal. She also said that the insurgents did not force them to remove their crosses.
Many media outlets did not acknowledge that an exchange took place at the border. They only focused on the release of the nuns. However, Hadi Abdullah of the Syrian opposition caught the events that transpired at the border on video. The video showed the rebels releasing the nuns in exchange for at least two children and a group of women that the Syrian government was said to be detaining.
The swap that happened was rare and unforeseen, as peace talks in Geneva for the two sides to give a list of the prisoners they are holding were not successful.
— RT (@RT_com) March 10, 2014
The nuns were taken to Damascus where they prayed before travelling to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate located in Old Damascus, where they will be staying.
Nuns back in Syria
Image via YouTube