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Syrian priest kidnapped by ISIS is free

Fr Mourad is free (AFP)

Syrian priest Fr Jacques Mourad is free, five months after he was kidnapped by ISIS near Homs.

Church sources revealed that the Catholic priest said his first Mass since his abduction yesterday, with a source telling AFP news “Fr (Jacques) Mourad is free. He is currently in the village of Zaydal. The priest of the Syriac Catholic Church celebrated mass this morning in Zaydal.”

For security reasons the details of his release have not been revealed, but the good news is a surprise considering that ISIS have not released any clerical prisoners, unlike the other major Islamist group, the al-Nusra front.

Fr Mourad, the head of Mar Elian monastery in the once heavily Christian village of al-Qaryatain, was kidnapped in May after the nearby city of Palmyra was seized by the terrorists.

ISIS then captured al-Qaryatain town in August after a battle with the Syrian Army. More than 2000 Christians lived in al-Qaryatain before the civil war, but most have now left.

After taking over al-Qaryatain, ISIS extremists destroyed the Assyrian monastery of Mar Elian in late August.

Fr Mourad was one of six priests who featured in a Catholic Herald story about missing clergy in Syria back in July.