Italian priest killed in Syria – reports

Father Paolo Dall'Oglio has been killed by an Islamic group, more than two weeks after he went missing, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

Italian priest killed in Syria - reports
Father Paolo Dall’Oglio lived in Syria for more than 30 years. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/Flickr

“Activists in the city [of Raqqah]…have confirmed to the SOHR [Syrian Observatory for Human Rights] that Italian Jesuit priest and the messenger of peace Father Paolo Dall’Oglio has been killed while in the prisons of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS),” the organization said in a Facebook statement.

The ISIS is a group operating in Syria with links to al-Qaeda.

The SOHR said that Dall’Oglio had been held in the group’s prison for more than two weeks, but gave no further details.

The Italian foreign ministry told The Local that it was aware of the report, although could not confirm whether it was true.

Reports of Dall’Oglio’s disappearance began to circulate online on July 29th, prompting Pope Francis to express his concern for the priest’s welfare.

A vocal critic of the Bashar al-Assad regime, the priest was thrown out of the country in June 2012 although he re-entered Syria in July.

There have been conflicting reports over Dall’Oglio’s disappearance from the rebel-held city of Raqqa.

While some said that he had been kidnapped by the ISIS, others stated that he had willingly gone to meet the group to negotiate the release of prisoners.

Given the ongoing civil war in Syria it is difficult to independently verify such reports.

Dall’Oglio had lived in Syria for more than 30 years and has been praised internationally for bringing Christians and Muslims together.

He is also known for restoring the Deir Mar Musa monastery, north of Damascus. 

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Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes

A film that follows two friends through four nightmarish years of the Syrian civil war has lifted some of the top prizes at the Venice film festival, which ends Saturday.

Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes
The Venice film festival ends on Saturday. Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
“Still Recording”, a documentary by Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal, records what happened to two idealistic art students after they were swept up in the fervour of the Syrian revolution. It picked up two awards at Venice Critics' Week.
Friends Saeed and Milad leave Damascus and go to Douma in 2011, a suburb under rebel control, to set up a radio station and recording studio. There they struggle to keep a flicker of hope and creativity alive as they endure fighting, siege and famine.
Ayoub and Al Batal, who shot 500 hours of footage, told AFP that with so little reporting coming out of Syria it was important to bear witness.
“We started doing this because there wasn't, and still isn't, an efficient working media in Syria because it's not allowed to enter and if it is, it's under the control of the regime,” said Al Batal.
“Art is nothing if it is not resistance, even if there isn't revolution… it is resistance against a huge amount of emotions you have got inside you. Emotions need to come out and expressing them through art can do that.”
The win comes as the Syrian regime and its Russian allies are preparing to launch an assault on Idlib, the northern province that is the last major stronghold of the rebel and jihadist groups which have been trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad for the past seven years.
Al Batal said the situation in Syria “is more dangerous than ever now” because the Russian military are more ruthless than Assad's badly trained soldiers.
“They know where to hit, and how to hit hard,” said Al Batal, who said the “media army behind them” was the same.