- (Photo: Frank Mushmel)
New information regarding the Archbishop of Aleppo, Mar Gregorios Ibrahim, and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Metropolitan Paul Yazigi has suggested that the faith leaders may still be captured and in danger.
"Currently there still exists tremendous confusion and anxiety worldwide about this case. The WCA continues to emphatically deny all rumors that they are freed until we have received unambiguous signs of life from the two spiritual fathers," The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) said in a press release, urging news organizations that had reported on the story to issue a correction.
Frank Mushmel, a close friend of Ibrahim, told The Christian Post on Thursday that he has been in contact with the family as well as the diocese office in Aleppo and there has been no news of a release.
Christian ministry SAT-7 had shared an interview yesterday with Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, who claimed that the bishops were safe.
Al Jazeera and other news organizations reported that the bishops had been freed, but WCA is insisting that such news is only rumors.
"As soon as the two Archbishops are alleged to be released, we request that they be granted the possibility to speak directly with their Archdiocese and relatives to take away their deep concerns. Only when they have had contact with their loved ones, we will be convinced about their freedom," WCA said.
Ibrahim and Yazigi were reported to have been kidnapped by Syrian rebels on Monday while travelling back from negotiations to release other captives.
"The WCA will persistently ask the international community and rebel forces to step up their efforts to intervene in this case until the clerics have returned home safe and well."
Pope Francis has commented on the case, saying: "The kidnapping of the Greek Orthodox and the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan bishops, regarding whose liberation there has been conflicting news, is a further sign of the tragic situation that the beloved Syrian nation has been undergoing, where violence and weapons continue to sow death and suffering."
A petition on behalf of Syrian Christians asking President Barack Obama to intervene on their behalf was launched on Wednesday as the Middle East country continues suffering under the toll of civil war.
"While the lives of many civilians (Christians and non-Christians) are under constant threat and warrant equal concern, these two bishops were providing help and guidance to many," the petition reads.