On Sunday, June 23, Syrian Catholic priest François Murad was murdered in the locality of Gassanieh, northern Syria, according to a statement from the Custody of the Holy Land sent to the Fides Agency.
Murad (49), having led a religious life and studied in Palestine, was ordained a priest and set about building a monastery in Gassanieh, Idlib.
Murad was targeted by armed militants, while he was residing at the monastery, which was dedicated to Saint Simon Stylite.
SyriaReport has acquired this image of Fr. Murad:
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Citing the head of all Franciscans in the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Vatican News Agency said that Father Murad recently chose a monastic way of life and resorted to the monastery, with Franciscan Friars, a few weeks earlier.
“The world must know that the support of gunmen by the west is helping extremists in killing Syrians”, Pizzaballa said, adding that, “with such stances, not a single Christian will remain in the East.”
According to local sources, the monastery was raided by gunmen, who proceeded to execute François Murad, loot and burn the building. Four-thousand people are reported to have since fled the area.
Christians in Syria are being increasing targeted by sectarian armed groups in Syria, of which there are between several hundred and over a thousand.