Opposition fighters abducted 12 nuns from a Christian village overrun by rebels, Syria's Greek Orthodox patriarch and the head of a convent said Tuesday, adding to fears that hard-line Muslim rebels were increasingly targeting Christians.

The nuns join two bishops and a priest who were previously kidnapped by rebels. Syria's minorities have mostly sided with the regime or remained neutral in Syria's civil war.

The nuns and three other women were seized Monday from the Greek Orthodox Mar Takla convent in Maaloula and taken to the rebel-held town of Yabroud, said Mother Superior Febronia Nabhan, head of the nearby Saidnaya Convent.

Greek Orthodox Patriarch John Yazigi appealed for the release of the women, as well as two dozen orphans the nuns care for, although it could not be confirmed that the children were also taken. - AP