Syrian rights group says Qaeda-linked rebels killed Italian priest

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Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria have killed an Italian Jesuit priest who disappeared in the east of the country late last month, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

Paolo Dall’Oglio, a vocal supporter of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some Islamist rebel groups, disappeared in the rebel-held city of Raqqa on July 29.

He had served for three decades at the Monastery of Saint Moses the Abyssinian, or Deir Mar Musa, before being expelled from the country in 2012. Since then he had returned to Syria at least twice.

The British-based monitoring group cited local activists in the city of Raqqa with close links to Dall’Oglio as saying he was killed while being held by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

It was not immediately possible to confirm the report.

The Observatory urged all Syrian opposition forces to pressure the ISIL fighters to reveal exactly what happened to Dall’Oglio “so his killers can be held to account, and to hand over his body for burial.”

Activists initially said he was kidnapped by the ISIL fighters, although some later said he had been meeting the al Qaeda-linked fighters to agree a truce with Kurdish brigades.

He was instrumental in restoring Deir Mar Musa, whose cathedral houses an exquisite 11th century fresco of the Last Judgment.

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