Latakia, Syria, Jan 5, 2016 / 12:10 pm
Franciscan priest Fr. Dhiya Aziz, who had been briefly kidnapped by unknown jihadist militants in Syria in July and was abducted a second time just before Christmas, and has again been set free by his captors.
“Today we received the communication that Fr. Dhiya Azziz has been liberated and that he is doing well,” a brief Jan. 4 statement from the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land read.
The statement reported that the Custody is unable to provide further details of Fr. Aziz’ abduction and release due to reasons of confidentiality, but thanked all those who helped to liberate the friar.
Fr. Aziz, 41, is currently in Damascus. He is the parish priest at Yacubiyeh, a village in Syria's Idlib province, more than 56 miles northeast of Latakia. The Islamist rebel group al-Nusra Front has a strong presence in the province.
According to a Dec. 28 statement from the Custody, Fr. Aziz disappeared Dec. 23. He was travelling by taxi from Latakia to Yacubiyeh. He had returned from Turkey, where he was visiting family members who took refuge there after the Islamic State seized Bakhdida, Iraq in August 2014.