A Catholic priest has been beheaded by Syrian rebels in a monastery in the north of the country, as confirmed by the Vatican. Father François Murad, 49, was killed on June 23 when militants attacked the rebel guerrillas monastery where he took refuge.

The Vatican news agency has reported that the circumstances of the attack are unclear. However, local sources say that the attackers are linked to jihadist group known as al-Nusra Front, the group of terrorists the United States has been arming in Syria to fight the Syrian Army.

A video sequence apparently shows the body-less head of the religious man along with two other unidentified persons. Such video has been published by Catholic websites. Father Murad had moved to the monastery in the Gassabieh area for security reasons, reported the Vatican.

The cleric was a member of the Franciscan order, responsible for the custody of the Christian sites in the Middle East.

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Franciscan leader in the region, reported that Syria has become a battlefield, not only among Syrians but also between Arab countries and the international community. “We pray that this absurd and disgraceful war ends soon so the Syrian people can return to their normal lives.”

Correspondents say that ethnic and religious minorities in the country are being driven out by the conflict as the struggle intensifies and takes on a more sectarian nature.

A group of armed people in northern Syria kidnapped two Orthodox Christian bishops in April while they were traveling from the Turkish border back to Aleppo.

In Aleppo there are two ways of administering justice, by way of the Free Syrian Army, which calls itself the secular form of justice, or via Islamic law, where people face ‘justice’ from terrorist group al-Nusra. The way in which laws apply in both sides are completely different and the severity of the punishments unmatched. “We have tried on numerous occasions to unify the two systems through meetings with the leader of Al Nusra, in order to work together, but they have always rejected it,” says judge Marwan Gayn. “No laws can be applied according to God. We also applied the sharia but not in the same way they do”.

“For these reasons,” says the judge, “we can not work with Al Nusra, because they are very severe”. Their sentences are usually death. Islam is much simpler than all that. They are part of Al Qaeda ”


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