Latest media reports from Syria say foreign - sponsored militants fighting against the government plan to use a group of nuns they kidnapped from their convent in the town of Ma ' loula as “human shields. ”Twelve Syrian and Lebanese nuns were kidnapped from a Greek Orthodox convent after foreign - backed militants, including members of the al - Qaeda - linked al - Nusra Front, moved into the center of Ma ' loula on Monday following several days of fighting. The nuns were then taken to the nearby town of Yabrud - which has a large Christian population. Reports say Syrian forces have been deployed to Ma ' loula to restore security there. The Syrian army has been battling Takfiri militants in the regions near the capital Damascus. The army has cleared many towns and villages of the militants.
On Tuesday, Syria ' s Greek Orthodox patriarch called for the release of the nuns, saying, “We appeal to the seed of conscience that God planted in all humans, including the kidnappers, to release our sisters safely. ”Moreover, the Syrian Foreign Ministry sent two letters to the head of the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late on Monday, saying, “Syria is facing a barbarian war launched by extremist...gangs targeting its present and future.” The ministry added that “terrorists” stormed Mar Takla Convent and held its Mother Superior Pelagia Sayaf and a number of nuns “as hostages and sabotaged churches and houses.” The foreign-sponsored militants have previously abducted two bishops and a priest. The militants fighting against the Syrian government had attacked Ma'loula, which is regarded as a symbol of the ancient Christian presence in Syria, early in September. However, they were pushed out of the town by the Syrian troops. Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey -- are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.