Syrian priest Jacques Mourad, who was held by the Islamic State for nearly three months and threatened with execution, has spoken for the first time about his ordeal.

Fr. Mourad was abducted from Qaryatain in May and escaped in October.

In an interview with the BBC, he describes his kidnapping and time in captivity.

“Those were very painful days,” he says. “I didn’t expect to survive.”

Fr. Mourad describes being reunited with the Christians from his town, who had also been kidnapped, and given a choice between embracing Islam or signing up to various restrictions for life as an “infidel” under Islamic rule.

He said that he left to encourage others to do the same, saying that the other 160 Christians would never leave had he remained.