A Syrian Catholic priest has been beheaded by jihadist fighters in Syria, it has been claimed.
The death of Franciscan Father Francois Murad has been confirmed by the official Vatican news agency.
The gruesome killing has raised further concerns about the West arming rebels in the fight against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Grainy footage purported to show the 49-year-old’s death has been posted on the internet.
Father Francois, was killed on 23 June in Gassanieh, in northern Syria.
He had been staying in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land.
Catholic.org linked to the video and reported: ‘Syrian terrorists have beheaded a Catholic priest who they accused of collaborating with the Assad regime. Those accusations have not yet been verified.’
Fides News Agency said: ‘According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.’
Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Front for the Protection of the Syrian People, is an al-Qaeda associated group, described as ‘the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force.’
In the video, filmed on a camera phone and posted on LiveLeak, three men — including a man reported to be Father Francois – are seen sitting on the dusty ground as a crowd around them cheers.