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SYRIA – Bishop of Aleppo: unreliable rumors on a jihadist beheaded by an Assyrian soldier. Christians never justify revenge

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(Agenzia Fides) – Bishop Georges Abou Khazen OFM, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for the Catholics of the Latin rite, considered the rumor spread from London by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and relaunched by the British media “unreliable and unverifiable” with regards to a jihadist militia affiliated to the Islamic state (IS) who apparently was beheaded “for revenge” by an Assyrian Christian soldier, after being taken prisoner in the northeastern Syrian province of Jazira.

According to the London-based organization, the Christian soldier captured the jihadist fighter in Tal Shamiram, one of the villages in the Khabur valley, recently abandoned by the militias of the Islamic State after an occupation which lasted more than three months and has returned under the control of the Kurdish and Assyrian military formations.

Once the Assyrian soldier found out that the prisoner belonged to jihadi militias, it seems that the soldier beheaded him “for revenge because of the abuses committed by the group in the region”. The incident is presented in general terms, without specifying details or without mentioning names. “The manipulation of information” highlighted Bishop Abou Khazen “is also one of the means used to multiply the violence and horrors of this conflict. We know that more than 230 Assyrian Christians abducted in the villages of Khabur are still held hostage by jihadists”, said the Bishop. Only a reckless person could have done something like that, when others are in danger, and everything can be used as a pretext to justify retaliation.

And above all, added the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo “we Christians do not justify any revenge or violence with religious issues. The only revenge we know is forgiveness, in order to also be a sign of light for all. Vendettas only deepen the wounds, and lengthen the spiral of hatred”. Bishop Abou Khazen confirms that “this feeling is in all Christians, especially in the simplest, who live suffering like lambs among wolves: they are the first to say that the vicious circle of violence and revenge must be interrupted by someone, and this is the only way not to succumb and open paths to reconciliation”.

Abou Khazen confirms to Agenzia Fides that in the Latin parish of the city of Aleppo, among many difficulties and sufferings, a “summer camp” has been opened for children and young people: “In this martyred city it is a sign of hope. It is an opportunity to give a bit of relief to many poor children, allow them to get out of the houses where they live constantly like prisoners, and where often there is no light and water”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 30/05/2015)

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