Syrian prelates ‘located alive’ – reports

Two individual sources have claimed that a pair of Orthodox bishops kidnapped in Syria are alive and have been traced to Turkey.

In April, Bishop Boulos al Yazigi of the Orthodox Church of Antioch and Bishop Mar Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim of the Syrian Orthodox Church disappeared while undertaking a humanitarian mission to Kafr Dael, near the Syrian-Turkish border. Rumours began to circulate soon after as to the identities of their captors and to their fate, but no trace of the prelates was found.

Now, twin claims have emerged from the region insisting that the bishops are alive and being held by kidnappers in Turkey.

No less an figure than Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun Badreddin has spoken publicly to state that the bishops are being held in Turkey, having been spirited across the border by a gang of Chechen fighters.

Added to this claim is one made from Lebanon, by General Abbas Ibrahim, head of the country’s General Security Directorate, who, on October 29, revealed that he has learned of the whereabouts of the abductees. While not naming the location, General Ibrahim stated that negotiations are currently underway to secure the prelates’ release.

"We are indirectly in contact with the kidnappers, and this is an important development,” he said.

Turkish authorities have denied the bishops are being held in the country.