Security Chief Meets Patriarch John X over kidnapped bishops


BEIRUT: Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim  met Saturday with Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X Yazigi  and discussed the ongoing efforts  to secure the release of two Syrian bishops.

Ibrahim, the head of General  Security, returned Friday from Turkey  where he followed up on the negotiation  process concerning the release of the bishops as well as a group of nine  Lebanese hostages held in Syria.

Speaking to reporters in the northern city of Tripoli about the Lebanese  hostages, Ibrahim reiterated that their release is imminent, saying: “Things are  heading toward a solution in the short run.”

According to the National News  Agency, Ibrahim informed Yazigi about recent developments in the case of  the prelates, saying that the matter could be resolved in the near future.

The Head of the Syriac League Habib Afram  told An-Nahar  in remarks Saturday that “there was hope  of the bishops being released before the Eid al-Adha holiday” which starts Oct.  15.

Ibrahim has been tasked with resolving both cases and has reportedly been in  contact with Syrian, Qatari, Turkish and Palestinian sides to secure the release of both  groups.

Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi  and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim  were kidnapped on April 22 by  armed men while en route to Aleppo  from the Turkish border.

They are reportedly being held by a small group of rebels in the Syrian town  of Bshaqtin, 20 kilometers northwest of Aleppo.

Eleven Shiite Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by rebels while making their  way from Iran to Syria  on May 22 of last year. Two have been  released so far.

The release of the Lebanese could also see a release of two Turkish Airlines  pilots kidnapped in Beirut  on Aug. 9 in retaliation for the abduction  of the pilgrims.

A previously unknown group has claimed responsibility for the Turks’  kidnapping, demanding the release of the pilgrims in exchange for pilot Murat Akpinar  and his co-pilot Murat Agca.