Catholic Priest Feared Kidnapped By Islamist Militants

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Erica Wenig Contributor
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Islamist militants reportedly kidnapped a parish priest in northwestern Syria, the latest Christian figure to fall victim to the ongoing Syrian war.

An overseeing body for Franciscan missionaries in the Middle East lost contact with the Rev. Dhiya Aziz after he was taken for a “brief interview” by jihadis believed to be affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra.

Aziz was kidnapped from the village of Yacoubieh, near the city of Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province, according to Al-Hayat. Nusra, an affiliate of al-Qaida, was one of the hardline Islamist groups to wrest control of Jisr al-Shughur from the Syrian regime in April.

The Greek and Syriac Orthodox archbishops of Aleppo were abducted in 2013. They were taken while returning from negotiating the release of two kidnapped priests near the Turkish border, Catholic News Agency reported. It is unclear who abducted the bishops, and they remain missing.

A group of Greek Orthodox nuns were kidnapped by Nusra militants, held for three months and released in March of 2014 as part of a prisoner exchange, according to the BBC.

Aziz, 41, was born in the Iraqi city of Mosul and served in parishes in Egypt and Jordan before moving to Syria. (RELATED: One Syrian Bishop Says What America Can Do To Help End The Civil War)

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