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Journalistic Investigation Sheds Light upon Fate of Metropolitans Kidnapped in Syria

Journalistic Investigation Sheds Light upon Fate of Metropolitans Kidnapped in Syria

15 января 2020
Теги: Сирия, Война на Ближнем Востоке, Терроризм, Православие

Bishops Paul Yazigi and John Ibrahim were martyred for Christ and killed by the militants of Nour Al-Din Al-Zenki (a Free Syrian Army unit), an opposition group sponsored and supported by the Western countries during the Syrian crisis, journalists have found out. Orthotimes.news publishes an English translation of the investigation.

On April 22, 2013, Paul Yazigi, a Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo (who is the younger brother of Patriarch of Antioch John X Yazigi) and John Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, went to Turkey allegedly in order to collect humanitarian aid for the Christians of Aleppo.

The team of investigative journalists concluded that the true mission of Paul Yazigi and John Ibrahim was to release from captivity the Greek Orthodox priest Maher Mahfouz and the Armenian Catholic priest Michel Kayal, who had been kidnapped on their way to the monastery of the Sacred Heart Sisters in the town of Al-Kafrun about 30 km from Aleppo and detained in the town of Kafr Dael.

The bishop's martyrdom was predetermined when the Syrian opposition leader George Sabra met with representatives of American and Turkish intelligence services. At the meeting, there was formed a plan to kidnap with the help of the Katibat al-Muhajirin group two ordinary priests (Michel Kayal and Maher Mahfouz) who would later become a bait for the bishops. Later, Nour Al-Din Al-Zenki convinced Paul Yazigi and John Ibrahim that they were ready to release the two priests in case Yazigi and Ibrahim participated in the negotiations personally.

Journalists studied the route of the two bishops from Aleppo and the goals of their journey according to open sources, and then identified possible places of their kidnapping. They also relied on the evidence of a former Nour Al-Din Al-Zenki militant Yasser Mahdi who guarded the metropolitans in captivity.

On April 22, the metropolitans guided by a Nour Al-Din Al-Zenki member departed from Aleppo and reached the militants’ checkpoint near Kafr Dael. The militant left the car, and the terrorists attacked it. The driver was killed and the metropolitans were captured and moved to the village of Mashad to the northwest of Aleppo (23 km from Kafr Dael).

The most probable motive of the kidnapping turned out to be using the bishops for ideological reasons and to compel Paul Yazigi and John Ibrahim, who were calling for dialogue with the Syrian authorities, to abdicate from the Orthodox faith. The operation called "Deprivation" could force Christians to leave Syria and stop supporting president Bashar al-Assad, which would profit the US intelligence. A number of Syrian Christian experts support this version.

The Nour Al-Din Al-Zenki movement was considered one of the most powerful units of the Free Syrian Army, and is known to have received funding from the United States under a CIA program, which supported the alleged "moderate opposition".

It is worth noting that the extremists did not use their famous prison in Al Qasimia, but rather transferred the clergy to the area from which the movement stems.

While being in the terrorists’ captivity, Paul Yazigi and John Ibrahim were severely tortured. One day, after another torture, one of the metropolitans was at death's door, and the militants had to transfer him to Turkey for hospitalization. He was placed in Antakya Devlet Hastanesi Hospital in the border province of Hatay. This information was confirmed by a hospital employee.

Finally, when in 2016 the Syrian Arab Army was liberating the areas of Aleppo and most fighters fled to the northwest of the country, the kidnappers sensed danger. That is why, in early December 2016, one of the Nour Al-Din Al-Zenki field commanders known as Abu Hassan decided to kill the two bishops and hid their bodies in a secret location.

You can read the full investigation at Orthotimes.news