JERUSALEM — Religious leaders from around the world have stepped up their pleas for the safe return of two Syrian bishops who were kidnapped April 22 by armed men as they were driving near the war-torn city of Aleppo.
The kidnappers, who have not been identified, abducted Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, while they were undertaking a “humanitarian mission” to help Syria’s Christian minority, according to Syrian Christian expatriates in the U.S.
The bishops’ Syrian Orthodox driver was killed in the attack.
Since 2011, more than 70,000 Syrians have died in fighting in the bloody civil war between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels seeking to oust Assad’s strong-arm regime.
In a statement over the weekend, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for the bishops’ ”immediate and unconditional” release.
Such acts, it said, “contradict the principles of true Islam and the (high) status held for Christian clergymen in Islam.”