A group of nuns, who had been kidnapped more than four months ago in Syria, were finally released earlier this week when a deal was made with the Syrian government.
13 nuns and three workers, from a Greek Orthodox monastery in the country, were taken by rebel forces, from the al-Nusra Front fighters, in November.
A convoy of around 30 vehicles picked up the nuns and workers in one part of Syria and took them into Lebanon, the country’s National News Agency reported late Sunday.
The convoy travelled through Lebanon to another border crossing into Syria, the hillside village of Jdaidet Yabous. There, the group were met by Greek Orthodox church officials, who welcomed them back into Syria.
The rebel forces had claimed that they only abducted the nuns for their safety, believing they were in danger under al-Assad’s government yet many of Syria’s Christians support the current regime, fearing that an end to al-Assad’s presidency could lead to instability and an Islamist power grab.
When the group finally arrived back to their home overnight, the nuns, some smiling, some solemn and at least one of whom appeared to be being carried, were mobbed by an enthusiastic crowd that included church officials.
No money was reportedly paid to secure the release of the nuns, instead it is believed that it was part of a deal in exchange for 150 females that the Syrian government was holding.
Qatari intelligence chief, Saadeh Kobeisi, reportedly crossed deep into Syrian territory to obtain the release of the Syrian nuns, as part of a Lebanese Internal Security delegation.
Christians currently make up approximately 10 per cent of the population of Syria, but Christianity has a rich history in the country.