Lamani Denies Contacting Kidnappers of Bishops in Syria, Lashes Out at 'Inaccurate' Media Reports

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Mokhtar Lamani, U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's representative in Damascus, denied on Tuesday that he is personally contacting the kidnappers of the two Orthodox bishops, who were seized in northern Syria in April.

Lamani's office denied in comments published in al-Akhbar newspaper that he contacted head of a radical Chechen group led by Mohammed Akroff via Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan.

Bishops Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi were kidnapped on April 23 in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo while they were on a humanitarian work.

Lamani also ruled out in his comments reports saying that he had received a tangible evidence that the two bishop are safe or a 6-minute audio recording with Akroff.

The official expressed surprise over the scenario published in some media outlets, wondering about the aims behind publishing such fabricated reports.

He pointed out that he contacted several Syrian nationals to help free the two bishops, pointing out that they are held captive by an al-Qaida-affiliated group.

“The Syrians who are contacting the kidnappers had previously confirmed to me that they are still alive,” Lamani said.

He described reports saying that the fate of one of the bishops is unknown as “inaccurate,” saying that the information published in media reports led to cutting all contacts between the mediators and the kidnappers.

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has met with Syrian President Bashar Assad to discuss the case of the bishops earlier in October.

However, Syria expressed resentment over Lebanon's exploitation of the case of the two bishops, who are Syrians, considering it as “a national Syrian matter,” which Lebanon is interfering in.

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