NUNS FOR NUSRA?: Pro-Assad Sama news network aired a segment Monday lashing out at one of the 13 nuns released into Lebanon Sunday for expressing her gratitude to Qatar, which reportedly played a key role in brokering the nuns’ release following three months in captivity by Jabhat a-Nusra.
“Let them go to Qatar and see what good it does them,” said one Syrian, speaking to Sama in Damascus.
“They should thank [Syria], which got them freed,” says an elderly man. “Qatar is the reason for the situation we’re in,” charged another interviewee.
The 13 Greek Orthodox nuns and their three maids were released Sunday, more than three months after Jabhat a-Nusra fighters abducted them from the Mar Takla monastery in the ancient Christian village of Maaloula.
In addition to thanking Qatar, the nuns provoked further enmity by stating that Jabhat a-Nusra had treated them well during the period of their captivity.
Their release came as part of an agreement announced Sunday between Jabhat a-Nusra fighters and the Syrian government, reportedly with involvement from Lebanese and Qatari officials. Syrian officials, however, have denied that they held “any direct or indirect contact” with Qatar, which has been one of the opposition’s staunchest international backers.
Per the agreement, Jabhat a-Nusrareleased the nuns Monday morning into the town of Jadidat Yabous in eastern Lebanon, from which they subsequently traveled to Damascus. In exchange, the regime was to release some 150 female prisoners held in government prison. It remains to be seen how many are actually released; pro-regime daily al-Want quoted Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi on Tuesday as stating that only 25 prisoners “who do not have Syrian blood on their hands” had been set free.
At the end of the segment, the program host insists that the nuns’ expression of gratitude to Qatar and Jabhat a-Nusra is equivalent to thanking Israel.