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Syrian Bishop Denies Reports Christian Fighter Beheaded ISIS Militant: 'Vendettas Only Deepen Wounds'

( [email protected] ) Jun 01, 2015 02:23 PM EDT
Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo in Syria for the Catholics of the Latin rite, has denied reports that a Syrian Christian fighter beheaded an ISIS terrorist in an act of vengeance and emphasized that the "only revenge" Christians know is "forgiveness."
On February 15, ISIS militants released a video titled "A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross" depicting the executions of 21 members of the Coptic Orthodox Church on a beach in Egypt. Many of the victims cried out to Jesus before they were beheaded YouTube/Screengrab

Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo in Syria for the Catholics of the Latin rite, has denied reports that a Syrian Christian fighter beheaded an ISIS terrorist in an act of vengeance and emphasized that the "only revenge" Christians know is "forgiveness."

"The manipulation of information is also one of the means used to multiply the violence and horrors of this conflict," Bishop Abou Khazen told the Catholic Fides news agency. "We know that more than 230 Assyrian Christians abducted in the villages of Khabur are still held hostage by jihadists."

Last week, U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a Christian fighter from the minority Assyrian community, who was not identified, executed an Islamic State militant Thursday in the village of Tal Shamiram in Syria's Hasakeh province.

At the time, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse, "He took him prisoner and when he found out he was a member of IS, the Assyrian fighter beheaded him in revenge for abuses committed by the group in the region."

The bishop explained that British media widely circulated the story despite it being "unreliable and unverifiable," and emphasized that vengeance is not a Christian principle. "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."

Abou Khazen added all Christians, "especially in the simplest, who live suffering like lambs among wolves," 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."

Since declaring a "caliphate," or state ruled by Islamic rule last June, ISIS has executed 2,618 people, including 1285 civilians, 272 children and 212 women, according to a recent report from the Observatory. The group found that 45 citizens, including a woman, were tortured to death in the regime jails, and 159 people, including 14 children and 14 women, were executed by ISIS militants.

In addition to displacing hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in an attempt to rid the region of religions other than Islam, the group has also seized a sizeable arsenal of military vehicles, weapons and ammunition from retreating Iraqi forces.

In light of the ongoing terror occurring at the hands of ISIS militants, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has renewed its appeal to UN Security Council to "assume its responsibilities and work on using its power in order to stop the daily killing committed against the Syrian people and destroying their social structure, coexistence, past, present and future by using all kind of weapons, whether they are firearms or media, where the Syria helicopters intensified and concentrated on using explosive barrels in the last six months despite the adoption of resolution 2139 by the Security Council, where the most important mission of this resolution is to maintain the international peace and security."