Erbil, Kurdistan Region – The Assyrian Network for Human Rights (ANHR) reported the disappearance of Father Antoine Peters, 50, parish priest of St. Phillips church in Shahba town of as-Suwayda province, southern Syria. 

The priest, along with his car driver Saud al-Abdoun, have disappeared since Sunday. 

The ANHR reported that the priest and his driver disappeared on the highway between the towns Shahba and Sama Hinadat, where the priest was expected to perform the Sunday Mass.

“Father Antoine was abducted by an unknown group,” the source added, without accusing any armed faction. 

The network pointed out that Father Antoine Peters is known for his charitable and humanitarian activities in the province of as-Suwayda, as well as his efficient role in maintaining civil peace in the province of as-Suwayda, in southern Syria.

Speaking to ARA News, Assyrian human rights activist Hussam al-Qiss said accused militants of Nusra Front (Syria’s branch of al-Qaeda) of abducting Father Antoine. 

“Nusra militants have done the same with renowned priests in Idlib province. This radical group is no less dangerous than Daesh (ISIS). They try to hit the social fabric in Syria,” al-Qiss said. 

“The presence of extremist organizations in Syria has also helped the Assad regime to promote itself as protector of minorities. Both regime and radical groups gain more power by weakening Syrian communities,” the Assyrian activist told ARA News. 

The abduction of Father Antoine Peters is the second incident of its kind unless than two weeks. Islamist militants of Nusra Front also kidnapped Franciscan monk Father Zia Aziz, the parish priest of Yaqoubiya on July 4, in the countryside of Idlib province, northern Syria.


Reporting by: Sarbaz Yousef
Source: ARA News