Bishop of Aleppo says Assyrian Christian did not behead ISIS member

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‘Christian militias’ have sprung up in Iraq in response to the threat from ISIS.
Reports that an Assyrian Christian beheaded an ISIS fighter as an act of revenge are “unreliable and unverifiable”, according to the Catholic Bishop of Aleppo.
Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo in Syria, said reports of the beheading by an Assyrian Christian soldier of an Islamic State member taken prisoner in the northeastern Syrian province of Jazira were nothing more than “rumour”.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Christian soldier captured the jihadist fighter in Tal Shamiram, one of the villages in the Khabur valley. The Observatory said the village had been 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 was claimed, the soldier beheaded him for revenge because of the abuses committed by the group in the region.

Bishop Abou Khazen said: “The manipulation of information 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.”

He said only a reckless person would have spread a rumour like that when others are in danger, and anything can be used as a pretext to justify retaliation.

Above all, he added: “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.

“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.”

Khazen also said that in spite of all the local difficulties, a summer camp for children and young people had been opened in Aleppo by the Catholic parish.

“In this martyred city it is a sign of hope,” he said. “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”.