Syria Rebels Say Snipers Block Nuns Evacuation

Sednaya mother superior says nuns are comfortable in Yabroud

Fire from snipers loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad is blocking efforts to evacuate 12 Syrian and Lebanese Orthodox nuns from their convent in the town of Maloula, which was overrun by rebels on Monday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported Tuesday, citing rebel sources.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed on Monday that fighters from the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front had captured the historic town of Maloula after several days of fighting.

 

The Observatory denied earlier reports that the nuns were kidnapped by rebels.

 

Vatican Radio reported, citing Mario Zenari, the Vatican ambassador in Syria, on Tuesday said the rebels were able to move some of the nuns from Maloula to Yabroud, about 20 km to the north of Damascus.

 

Zenari said the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate had told him armed men had entered the monastery on Monday afternoon.

 

“They forced the sisters to evacuate and to follow them towards Yabroud. At this moment we cannot say if this is a kidnapping or an evacuation,” he told Reuters by telephone from Damascus. “I heard now there is a very fierce conflict going on in Maloula.”

 

Reached by phone, the mother superior of the Sednaya convent in Damascus province, Febronia Nabhan, told AFP she had spoken with her Maloula counterpart, who confirmed the nuns were in Yabroud.

 

Maloula’s mother superior Pelagia Sayyaf, told her said she and the 11 other nuns, accompanied by three young maids, were comfortably installed in a house in Yabroud adding that “no one was bothering them,” according to Nabhan.

 

The two nuns spoke on Monday evening, Nabhan said.

 

Zenari said it was unclear why the nuns had been forced to leave Maloula or “what the goal of this action is.”

 

The nuns were first reported missing on Monday, as rebel forces recaptured Maloula.

 

They were among the few residents left in the hamlet, sheltering inside the Mar Techla convent.

 

Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer

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