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Two prominent Syrian bishops, who had warned of the threat to religious tolerance and diversity from the two-year conflict in their country, were kidnapped on Monday 22 April by armed rebels in the northern province of Aleppo, state media said.

SANA news agency said the Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Archbishops of Aleppo, Yohanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, were seized by “a terrorist group” in the village of Kfar Dael as they were “carrying out humanitarian work”.

A Syriac member of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Abdulahad Steifo said Ibrahim had gone to collect Yazigi from the rebel-held Bab al-Hawa crossing because he had crossed there several times before and was familiar with the route.

The two men were driving to Aleppo when they were kidnapped, he added. Asked who was behind their abduction, Steifo said: “All probabilities are open.”

Last September Ibrahim told Reuters that Christians in Aleppo were suffering as a result of the uprising and the city, where rebels and pro-Assad forces have fought prolonged battles, was facing one of the most critical periods of its modern history.

Sources: Reuters, Yahoo7