Syrian Orthodox Priest Detained by Kurds Is Released

Of More Than 12 Other Syrian Christian Leaders Arrested, Two Are Still Being Held

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The Syrian-Orthodox priest detained by Kurds last Monday has been released.

According to Fides, Father Gabriel Daoud, was released last night after having been detained Feb. 16 by Kurdish armed men connected with the PYD party (Kurd Party Democratic Union, Syrian section of the Pkk). He was detained together with other leaders of Syrian Christian associations.

Of the group of more than 12 arrested, two are still being held. The others have been freed.

The Democratic Union Party, known as PYD, is a political party established in 2003 by Kurdish activists in northern Syria. It is an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Said to control a number of towns in Northern Syria, it is considered to be one of the most important Kurdish opposition parties in Syria.

According to local sources, at least 12 people were arrested and have been detained for moving into Kurd-controlled areas without permission.

Sources claim that the priest, who had just returned from a transfer to Damascus, was offer the possibility to be released alone, while the others remained detained. But he had refused.

Some point out that the incident would appear to be connected with antagonism among the various different military and political Kurdish groups operating in the Syrian province of northeast Jazira.

The presence of small armed Syrian and Assyrian groups has complicated the situation. They too divided among themselves, contending the exclusive use of the name Sotoro and siding partly with the government army and partly with Kurd troops connected with the Pkk. 

In January 2014, Syrian Kurds had taken a step towards the creation of an autonomous political entity in the northeast of the country, announcing the formation of an autonomous government comprising 20 ministers. In that self-proclaimed government group, three Syrian Christians had been enrolled as ministers.

Even before this, a Syrian Catholic Archbishop, Behnam Hindo, told Fides that autonomist drives of militant Kurd nature could not be considered the expression of prevailing sentiments among the local Kurd population.

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