Abducted Syrian priest Jacques Mourad is free

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Father Mourad was released, five months after he was kidnapped by Islamic State (ISIS) group's jihadists, clerics in Homs said on October 11, 2015. (AFP)

ARA News 

HOMS – Syrian priest Jacques Mourad, who was abducted in May in the central province of Homs, “is free” and on Sunday conducted “his first mass” since his abduction, a church source reported.

“Father (Jacques) Mourad is free. He is currently in the village of Zaydal,” the source told AFP.

“The priest of the Syriac Catholic Church celebrated mass this morning in Zaydal,” the source reported, without providing details on how he gained his freedom, citing security reasons.

In May, ISIS gunmen reportedly abducted Father Jacques Mourad, head of Mar Elian monastery in al-Qaryatain town, after the extremists seized the nearby ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria. 

ISIS militants took over al-Qaryatain town in August, subsequent to fierce clashes with forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Some 37 regime soldiers were killed, while ISIS lost 23 militants during the battle for al-Qaryatain. 

The radical group had abducted more than 230 civilians from the town, including 60 Christians.

After taking over al-Qaryatain, ISIS extremists destroyed the Assyrian monastery of Mar Elian in late August.

“Terrorists of Daesh (ISIS) destroyed the monastery completely. They want to eliminate the Assyrian culture and history from the town,” an Assyrian activist told ARA News.

More than 2000 Christians used to reside al-Qaryatain before the outbreak of the anti-Assad uprising mid-March 2011. Most of them left the town after violence hit Homs province. 

Reporting by: Nasser Khallo

Source: ARA News with AFP 

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