Iran Condemns Abduction of Nuns, Desecration of Christian Sites in Syria

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned desecration of churches by rebel groups in Syria and abduction of 12 nuns in the predominantly Christian town of Maaloula asking for their immediate and unconditional release

Iran Condemns Abduction of Nuns, Desecration of Christian Sites in Syria

“Certainly this act was taken with the aim of fueling sedition in Syria and discord among followers of divine religions who have had peaceful coexistence for centuries,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman, Marzyeh Afkham, said late on Wednesday.

Afkham called for unconditional release of “12 innocent nuns” who were kidnapped on Monday from a Greek Orthodox convent in Maaloula by foreign-backed militants, including members of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

The Iranian official also called on regional and international organizations to take immediate action -- in accordance with their humanitarian and legal obligations -- to prevent further acts of violence against civilians in Syria.

On Monday, Syrian state television reported that several nuns had been abducted from the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Mar Thecla after rebels captured the ancient part of the town and attacked the convent.

The Syrian foreign ministry sent letters to the head of the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General urging the international community to condemn the rebel attack on Maaloula and the convent, and to put pressure on the countries supporting the rebels.

Syrian rebels captured large parts of Maaloula, some 60 kilometers to the northeast of the capital, on Monday after three days of fighting.

Maaloula was the scene of heavy fighting in September. It is considered to be one of the birthplaces of Christianity and is home to a number of shrines and monasteries, which are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites.

Christians account for about 10 percent of Syria's population and are viewed as supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.

Rebels have also destroyed some churches in the areas they have under their control, forcing many Christian to flee their homes.

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