The two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped by foreign - sponsored militants in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo have been released, a church official said.
"The two are on their way to the patriarchy in Aleppo," Bishop Tony Yazigi of the Roman Orthodox Church said in Damascus on Tuesday. Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Paul Yazigi were captured by "a terrorist group" as they were "carrying out humanitarian work" in a village in Aleppo governorate on Monday, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported. "Terrorists intercepted the bishops' car in Kafr Dael village, took the driver out of the car and kidnapped the bishops," SANA said. According to Aleppo residents, Ibrahim went to pick up Yazigi from the rebel-controlled Bab al-Hawa crossing with Turkey. Their car was intercepted on the way back by militants who kidnapped the archbishops and killed their driver. Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of government forces, have been killed in the violence. Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals. The Syrian government says the West and its regional allies including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are supporting the militants. Several international human rights organizations have accused militants operating in Syria of committing war crimes. UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on April 18 that a quarter of Syria’s 22 million people are displaced within the country and 1.3 million have fled to other states in the Middle East and North Africa. “Children are among the ones who suffer most. Children have been murdered, tortured and subjected to sexual violence. Many do not have enough food to eat. Millions have been traumatized by the horrors,” Amos said.