Video: Abducted Syrian nuns "thank" captors for "protection"
Published Friday, December 6, 2013
A video released Friday night allegedly shows the group of nuns abducted by Syrian rebels from the town of Maaloula three days ago thanking their captors for "protecting" them.
The 13 nuns, dressed in black religious habits, appeared unharmed in the video obtained by Al Jazeera, but many of them kept still and looked to the ground as the cameraman – presumably one of the rebels – "interviewed" them.
"We have nothing to say but God give you strength for this favor that you have done for us," one of the nuns tells the cameraman.
The man then asked if they had been hit or mistreated in any way, to which the nun responded: "That did not happen."
"We are 13 nuns, and three civilians, staying at a very, very nice villa," she added.
Watch the video (Arabic):
Rebels kidnapped the nuns on December 3 from their convent in the Mar Thecla Monastery of the historic Christian town Maaloula which was captured from government forces one day before.
The nuns were believed to be taken to the neighboring village of Yabroud. Pope Francis and the Grand Mufti of Lebanon Mohammed Rashid Qabbani have called for their release.
"We emerged from heavy shelling, and good people brought us here, they befriended us, they housed us, and we're very thankful to them," a second nun told the rebel filmmaker.
The man then chose a nun at random and asked her if she would agree that they had been "kidnapped" or "detained." She replied that they had not been detained, but "taken to a safe place."
A fourth nun told the cameraman that they are "very, very happy" with "the brothers who performed a good operation and took us from the convent (in Maaloula) from under the shelling."
"They protected us," she added.
Earlier Friday a Saudi newspaper reported that a rebel group calling itself "Free Qalamoun" claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, and offered to release the nuns in exchange for 1,000 female prisoners held in Syrian jails.
The authenticity of that report could not be verified, and the video released Friday made no reference to such a deal.