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Kidnapped Syrian nuns released

A total of 12 Syrian nuns kidnapped by Syria's radical rebels late last year have been released, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV reported on Sunday.

The nuns are expected to arrive at the Syrian-Lebanese borders within an hour, the TV said.

Reports said the released nuns will be hosted in the Mariamieh Church in the capital Damascus, where a religious mass is expected to be held to celebrate their release.

Earlier in the day, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV said it has " information about a deal for today's release of the kidnapped nuns of Maloula amid preparations for official reception of them in Damascus."

Radical jihadist militants earlier kidnapped the 12 nuns from their convent in the Christian town of Maloula, north of Damascus, and took the nuns to the nearby town of Yabroud in December last year, where they have been fighting hard with Syrian government troops recently.

Syrian forces have unleashed a wide-scale offensive over the past three weeks to recapture the key town, where more than 10,000 rebel fighters are believed to hide out.

As clashes are flaring up in the surrounding of Yabroud, media reports said communication with the kidnapped nuns had been cut off.

Yet, the arrival of the kidnapped nuns at the Syrian-Lebanese borders is a sign that the nuns have been moved into Lebanon ahead of the Syrian military's operation in Yabroud, which is bordering Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Major-General Abbas Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon's security, who is heading the mediation for the nuns' release, said the decision to release the nuns has been taken and the matter will take some time due to logistic snags.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 09Mar14]

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