Men had been kidnapped along with Syrian Priest
Knayeh, Syria — The five Syrian Christians who were still being held after being kidnapped by a brigade of jihadists together with the pastor of Knayeh, Father Hanna Jallouf in the hours before October 6 were released Sunday morning, October 12.
Local sources reported to Fides that Christian communities in the Orontes Valley were relieved to learn of the release of the five men, all known for their involvement in the activities of the Franciscan convents in the villages of Knayeh and Yacoubieh.
Father Hanna and about twenty Catholics in the area — including four women — were taken following a ruling of the Islamic Court. In the following days the women were released and then the priest while the others were held. The Islamic Court agreed to submit Father Hanna to trial on charges "collaborating" with the Syrian regime, but no details were given on the timing of such legal proceedings. While awaiting trial, Father Hanna cannot leave the village of Knayeh.
In Knayeh, 300 Christians still live there and Father Hanna continues his pastoral service, even in conditions of limited freedom. In the village there is a help center of the parish supported by the Association (ATS) pro Terra Sancta, the non-governmental organizaiton of the Custody of the Holy Land since 2011.
"The aid is never paid in money," said Saltini Thomas, head of ATS, to terrasanta.net "but in groceries, clothing and medicine. Unfortunately — added Saltini — we cannot cover all the needs of the people. Each center spends 10 to 20 thousand dollars a month in aid, which is able to cover only a portion of the requests." In 2013, ATS helped the poor of Syria, both Christians and Muslims, with $427,000 in support.