Rebels in Syria freed more than a dozen Greek Orthodox nuns on Monday, ending their three-month captivity in exchange for Syrian authorities releasing dozens of female prisoners.
Syrian rebels, including members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, seized the nuns from the Mar Takla convent when fighters overran the Christian village of Maaloula, north of Damascus, in December.
Lebanese media reports say the nuns were taken to Lebanon late Sunday and are expected to return to Syria, where they were to be met by church officials.
The nuns, who are believed to be mostly Syrian and Lebanese, worked in the convent\’s orphanage.
Their seizure raised fears in the minority Christian community that they were being targeted by extremists among the fighters seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria\’s civil conflict has claimed more than 130,000 lives since 2011 and has driven 9.5 million people from their homes.