Security sources say nuns held in Syria freedSunday 09 March 2014 22.56
About a dozen nuns held in Syria for more than three months have been released and are on their way to Damascus via Lebanon, a Lebanese security source said.
The source said the nuns had been transferred to the Lebanese town of Arsal earlier in the week and were on their way to Syria today.
The nuns went missing in December after Islamist fighters took the ancient quarter of the Christian town of Maaloula north of Damascus.
After being held in the Greek Orthodox monastery of Mar Thecla in Maaloula, they were reportedly moved to the town of Yabroud, about 20km to the north.
Yabroud is now the focus of a Syrian government military operation.
Speaking to reporters at the border, Syrian Greek Orthodox Bishop Louka al-Khoury welcomed the news.
"What the Syrian army achieved in Yabroud facilitated this process," he said.
It was unclear exactly who had held the nuns and why they had been released now.
In December, the nuns were seen on a video obtained by Al Jazeera television, saying they were in good health, but it was not clear who filmed the video, where it was made or under what conditions.
Syria's Christian community has broadly tried to stay on the sidelines of the country's three-year-old-conflict, which has killed over 140,000 and become increasingly sectarian.