Syrian bishop debunks report of Christian beheading of ISIS militant

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Rodi Said)A general view shows a church in the Assyrian village of Abu Tina, which was recently captured by Islamic State fighters, February 25, 2015. Kurdish militia pressed an offensive against Islamic State in northeast Syria on Wednesday, cutting one of its supply lines from Iraq, as fears mounted for dozens of Christians abducted by the hardline group. The Assyrian Christians were taken from villages near the town of Tel Tamr, some 20 km (12 miles) to the northwest of the city of Hasaka. There has been no word on their fate. There have been conflicting reports on where the Christians had been taken. According to a report last week, a Christian militiaman took revenge on an ISIS terrorist, beheading him. That report, the Catholic bishop of Aleppo says, is false.

ALEPPO, Syria (Christian Examiner) – The much publicized report on the beheading of an Islamic militant by a Christian militia fighter in retaliation for the terrorist's actions against Syrian citizens is false, Bishop Georges Abou Khazen of Aleppo has said.

Khazen told the Fides Agency, which monitors Catholic news in the region, that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights report describing the incident was both "unreliable and unverifiable."

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.
- Catholic Bishop Georges Abou Khazen of Aleppo

According to multiple newspapers, the Syrian Christian was said to have been fighting for Kurdish forces who drove Islamic State fighters from several Syrian villages in Al-Hassakah earlier in the month. When the ISIS militant surrendered, the militia member reportedly beheaded him in front of witnesses after making him dig his own grave.

But, according to the report from Bishop Khazen, the information provided to western news outlets was nothing more than "rumor."

"The manipulation of information is also one of the means used to multiply the violence and horrors of this conflict," Khazen said. "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."

Khazen said what is known for certain is that more than 230 Assyrian Christians have been and are still held hostage by jihadists. Khazen said "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."