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New Information Indicates Kidnapped Syrian Bishops Still Alive

The two Syrian bishops kidnapped in April are still alive, according to new information, and Turkish authorities may be working to secure their release.
A general view shows people attending a candle-lit vigil at the Balamand Monastery in Koura, near the north Lebanese city of Tripoli, to call for the release of bishops kidnapped in northern Syria two months ago, June 22, 2013. Greek Orthodox Patriarch John Yazigi led the candle-lit vigil on Saturday for Greek Orthodox archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim, appealing to their kidnappers to free them and urging Syrian security forces to do more to win their release. REUTERS/Om
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BEIRUT — Al-Monitor obtained official information confirming that the authorities in Beirut have received reliable reports that the two bishops who were kidnapped in northern Syria on April 23 — Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi — are still alive. This information indicated that Turkish governmental and intelligence agencies provided information to Beirut about the health of the abducted Christian clerics. However, in the past few weeks, there was confusion among these agencies. The Turkish government had been mistaken regarding the identity of one of the bishops, confusing him with one of his aides (a deacon), who was killed by the abductors. On the other hand, a second intelligence party was confused regarding another detail.

For months, informants for these agencies had been providing the Turkish authorities with information that the two bishops were being held in a Syrian region south of Azaz, which was under the control of the armed opposition. These informants said that the abductors were regularly allowing the bishops to go out on short daily walks in an area that the informants for the intelligence agencies were surveilling. A few weeks ago, these informants noticed that these outings only included one man. This led some parties to infer that one of the bishops had been killed.

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