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March 10, 2014

Nuns Return to Syria After Release

by VOA News

A group of Greek Orthodox nuns held by rebels since December are back in Syria, a day after being released in neighboring Lebanon.

The 13 nuns and three attendants arrived early Monday in Jdeidet Yabous, a small town near the border about 30 kilometers northwest of Damascus.

One of the freed nuns expressed gratitude after returning to Syria.

"We are very pleased that we returned in good health.  Thank God.  We would like to thank everyone that helped us get back," she said.

The head of their Mar Taqla monastery said the group was treated well in captivity, and thanked President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese officials for helping secure their release.

The monastery is in Maaloula, a Christian village about 40 kilometers north of Damascus. Syrian rebels, including members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, overran the village in December and seized the nuns, who worked in the monastery's orphanage.

Their seizure raised fears in the minority Christian community that they were being targeted by extremists among the fighters seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.