The Catholic Bishop of Aleppo has rejected reports of the alleged “revenge” beheading of an Islamic State jihadist by an Assyrian Christian soldier in northeast Syria as “unreliable and unverifiable” rumors.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an unnamed fighter captured a non-Syrian jihadist last week and then “beheaded him in revenge for abuses committed by the group in the region,” SOHR spokesman Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse.
The incident reportedly came just after Kurdish and Assyrian militias successfully ousted Islamic State forces last week from 14 Christian villages they had invaded in Hassaka province three months ago.
Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the Catholic Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, called the SOHR report “a manipulation of information, one of the means used to multiply the violence and horrors of this conflict.”
“More than 230 Assyrian Christians abducted in the villages of Khabur are still held hostage by jihadists,” the bishop told Fides news agency. Only a “reckless person” would have retaliated like that, Abou Khazen declared, when he would know many other Christians were still in such danger.
“Everything can be used as a pretext to justify retaliation,” Bishop Abou Khazen said. “We Christians do not justify any revenge or violence…the only revenge we know is forgiveness. Vendettas only deepen the wounds and lengthen the spiral of hatred.”