UPDATE: Syrian Catholic priest NOT among three beheaded on video by Syrian rebels, says head friar
There are conflicting reports on the identity of the three Christians beheaded.
Updated: July 30, 2013
The Vatican has admitted that circumstances surrounding the death of Fr. Francois Murad, were “not fully understood” when it released a statement about the martyrdom of the Catholic cleric. Catholic Online was one of the leading outlets that broke the news that Murad had been beheaded.
The New York Daily News and International Business Times report that the Syrian Catholic priest was not among three men graphically filmed being beheaded in Syria last week a friar overseeing the Franciscans in the Middle East has told CNN.
Father Francois Mourad, a Syrian originally named as victim of a merciless mob, was instead shot eight times on June 23 when a group of rebels stormed his monastery, said Friar Pierbattista Pizzaballa, head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. He was buried that same day.
On Monday disturbing video allegedly capturing Mourad’s supposed slaughter in broad daylight among two others in the village of Gassanieh was published online, leading to the Vatican’s same-day confirmation of his martyrdom by the hands of jihadists on the 23rd.
Mourad’s attackers were said to have killed him for collaborating with President Bashar Assar’s regime.
The monastery in which Father Francios Murad resided was burnt and looted, echoing the events of a massacre in Homs last month which resulted in the entire population of a Christian village being wiped out and their houses and possessions burnt. Two Syrian Orthodox Archbishops Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yazigi were kidnapped by Chechen gunmen in Aleppo earlier this year, are still missing. There unconfirmed sources that state the two Orthodox Archbishops been executed.
As well as Christians, Shia villages are receiving the brunt of a boldly-confident insurgency. This newly-found confidence has resulted in having just recently received confirmation of America’s intent to supply the rebel fighters with more weapons. Last week, militants massacred dozens of villagers in the province’s town of Hatla. Since then, summary executions and sectarian house-to-house raids have taken place.
In March, a Muslim cleric was beheaded in Syria’s northern city of Aleppo by militants, who decapitated Sheikh Hassan Saif al-Deen before dragging his lifeless body on the streets.Local media blamed the beheading on the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra.
Foreign-sponsored militancy in Syria, which erupted in March 2011, has claimed the lives of many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel. The Al Qaeda linked al-Nusra Front has been behind many of the deadly bombings targeting both civilians and government institutions across Syria since the beginning of the violence.
This month has seen an escalation in sectarian atrocities committed by insurgents,who have been publicly armed and supported by America, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other actors. Indeed, the atrocities are coinciding with further arms transfers – with new advanced weaponry witnessed in the hands of militants in the past number of weeks.
The reported beheading of the three persons comes about the same time America has started sending arms to rebel fighters, the Wall Street Journal revealed this week. The Journal reported the Central Intelligence Agency just began transporting weapons to Jordan for eventual transfer to Syrian fighters.
The weapons transfer is aimed at helping Free Syrian forces oust Syria’s President Bashar al- Assad. It’s scheduled to coincide with arms shipments from other European and Arab allies for a planned and coordinated rebel attack set for August, the Journal reported.
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