Italian Priest Missing in Syria May be Alive: Monitoring Group
Beirut – An Italian Jesuit priest who disappeared last month in eastern Syria may still be alive, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday, almost a week after it said he had been killed by al Qaeda-linked rebels. The British-based monitoring group cited sources close to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) disputing assertions by local activists – and reported by the observatory – that Father Paolo Dall’Oglio had been killed while in the custody of the Islamist ISIL rebels.
Dall’Oglio, who supports the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, disappeared in the rebel-held city of Raqqa on July 29. Activists initially said he was kidnapped by ISIL fighters, although some later said he had met them to negotiate a truce with Kurdish brigades. It was not immediately possible to confirm Monday’s report. The Observatory called on those holding Dall’Oglio to produce evidence that he is alive.
Dall’Oglio served for three decades at the Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian, or Deir Mar Musa, before being expelled from the country in 2012. A Western diplomat said Dall’Oglio crossed into Syria from Turkey last month. He has been an advocate of reconciliation for Syria’s myriad religious and ethnic sects, especially between Kurds and Arabs. Dall’Oglio blamed Assad for provoking sectarian mayhem and called his forces “thugs.” (Reuters)