Two Orthodox archbishops have been kidnapped by foreign-sponsored militants in Syria in the northern governorate of Aleppo.
Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo Paul Yazigi were captured by "a terrorist group" as they were "carrying out humanitarian work" in a village in Aleppo governorate on Monday, the official news agency SANA reported.
"Terrorists intercepted the bishops' car in Kafr Dael village, took the driver out of the car and kidnapped the bishops," SANA said.
According to Aleppo residents, Ibrahim went to pick up Yazigi from the rebel-controlled Bab al-Hawa crossing with Turkey. Their car was intercepted on the way back by militants who kidnapped the archbishops and killed their driver.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
In an interview recently broadcast on Turkish television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that if the militants take power in Syria they could destabilize the entire Middle East region for decades.
“If the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country, or if the terrorist forces take control… the situation will inevitably spill over into neighboring countries and create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond,” he added.