MASNA, Lebanon (AP) — Rebels in Syria have freed more than a dozen Greek Orthodox nuns, ending their four-month captivity in exchange for Syrian authorities releasing dozens of female prisoners.
The release of the nuns and their helpers, 16 women in all, is a rare successful prisoner exchange deal between Syrian government authorities and the rebels seeking to overthrow the rule of President Bashar Assad.
But it is unlikely to soothe the fears of many Syrian Christians that their ancient minority is in danger should rebels come to power.
A convoy of 30 cars delivered the nuns to a Syrian town, which lies close to the Lebanese border.
The head of Lebanon's General Security agency, who oversaw the deal, tells Syrian TV that approximately 150 female prisoners are to be released in exchange for the nuns' freedom.
Syrian rebels, including members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, seized the 13 nuns and their three helpers from a convent when fighters overran a Christian village, north of Damascus, in December.