Baghuz, Syria, March 13, 2019
Two Syrian bishops, Boulos Yazigi, Antiochian Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo and Alexandretta and brother of Orthodox Patriarch John X, and Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo were kidnapped by Muslim rebels in the vicinity of Aleppo on April 22, 2013.
Since that time, there whereabouts and condition remain shrouded in mystery, though there have been occasional reports that they are alive. For example, in October 2016 they were reportedly in Raqqa, occupied by the Daesh militant group, though earlier there had been reports of their execution.
Now negotiations are reportedly underway for the release of Syriac Metropolitan Gregorios.
Fr. Samuel Gümüs, a Syriac priest serving in Germany commented to Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar that Met. Gregorios was being held in Baghouz, one of the last Islamic State strongholds, and that negotiations were underway. The story was picked up by Agenzia Fides and a number of other outlets.
Unfortunately, no information about the Antiochian Orthodox hierarch Met. Boulos was given.
According to Fr. Samuel, the negotiations were being conducted by the democratic forces of Syria and the forces of the Allied coalition. However, the newspaper, closed to the Shiite Hezbollah Party, also notes that the veracity of the information is difficult to ascertain, given the absence of any official statements.
In August 2017, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah stated that he had inquired with the Islamic State about the fate of the kidnapped bishops but was told that they had no useful information regarding their disappearance.
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