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Twelve nuns abducted from the Syrian village of Maaloula in December were about to be released but negotiations have “stumbled again”, the head of the Maronite Catholic Church in neighbouring Lebanon said.
According to the Beirut-based Daily Star, Patriarch Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï said: “We have made multiple contacts with several international sides, and the nuns’ release was imminent, but the issue stumbled again.”
The Greek Orthodox sisters were abducted by rebel forces from the monastery of St Thecla Greek Orthodox convent in the ancient Christian-majority village of Maaloula, where Aramaic is still spoken.
Patriarch Rai added: “The nuns’ detention is a disgrace to the world,” and called on the international community to work for the sisters’ release.
He made his comments last Tuesday, two days after Al Jazeera television broadcast a new video in which the nuns appeared.
“They say they are in good health, haven’t been mistreated … and they are waiting for their release to return to the convent,” a commentator for Al Jazeera said, according to Agence France-Presse.
AFP added that "the kidnappers are demanding the release of women held in Syrian prisons to set the nuns free", without giving specific detail.