- Christian Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped and beheaded by rebel fighters in northern town of Ras Al-Ayn on the Turkish border
- News came as pro-government forces celebrated their victory against rebels near Aleppo Airport
Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.
The nun said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits.
She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.
Sister Agnes-Mariam de la Croix said: ‘His only crime was his brother criticised the rebels, accused them of acting like bandits, which is what they are.’
There have been a growing number of accounts of atrocities carried out by rogue elements of the Syrian Free Army, which opposes dictator Bashar al-Assad and is recognised by Britain and the West as the legitimate leadership.
Sister Agnes-Miriam, mother superior of the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, has condemned Britain and the west for supporting the rebels despite growing evidence of human rights abuses. Murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery are becoming commonplace, she says.
‘The free and democratic world is supporting extremists,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam said from her sanctuary in Lebanon. ‘They want to impose Sharia Law and create an Islamic state in Syria.’
The 60-year-old Carmelite nun claims the west has turned a blind eye to growing evidence of a ‘fifth column’ of fanatics within the rag-tag ranks that make up the Free Syrian Army that they back to oust Assad.
One of the most effective fighting forces is the Jabat Al-Nusra, which has an ideology similar to Al Qaeda.
‘The uprising has been hijacked by Islamist mercenaries who are more interested in fighting a holy war than in changing the government,’ she said.
‘It has turned into a sectarian conflict. One in which Christians are paying a high price.’
The rebel attacked the northern town of Ras Al-Ayn, on the Turkish border, last month. The fighters entered the Christian quarter, ordering civilians to leave and leaving their homes.
‘More than 200 families were driven out in the night,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam says. ‘People are afraid. Everywhere the deaths squads stop civilians, abduct them and ask for ransom, sometimes they kill them.’
Militants wearing black bandanas of Al Qaeda recently laid siege to the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, located between Damascus and Homs, for two days in an attempt to prevent Christmas celebrations, the nun claims.
An estimated 300,000 Christians have been displaced in the conflict, with 80,000 forced out of the Homs region alone, she claims.
Many have fled abroad raising fears that Syria’s Christian community may vanish – like others across Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity.
Al Assad, a member of the Alawite Muslim sect, claims only his regime can protect Syria’s minorities from domination from the Sunni Muslims majority.
Meanwhile the fighting continues to rage with government forces retaking control of a key district in the city of Homs yesterday.
The latest violence comes after United Nations peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned of ‘hell’ for Syria if no political solution could be found.
Russia has stated the conflict is becoming increasingly militarised and sectarian and risks bringing chaos to the whole region.
Some 44,000 people have been killed since the uprising against the Al Assad regime began in March 2011.