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03/05/2019 Syria (International Christian Concern) – As the Islamic State makes a strong stand in what is regarded as their last pocket of Syrian territory, new rumors have arisen that the militants are holding Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio hostage in Baghuz. The priest disappeared in Raqqa in 2013, and after many false rumors of his status, has long since been presumed dead.

The new rumors, however, have a different note to them. Kurdish sources on the ground combined with Lebanese media state that the release of Fr. Dall’Oglio and other western hostages is imminent. According to the media outlet Fides, local ecclesial sources are giving more weight to this rumor than they have in the past. They have warned that the possibility of negotiation is put at risk by media outlets who appear to wish for the completion of the final offensive against ISIS. One news source says that ISIS is using Fr. Dall’Oglio as a bargaining chip which guarantees safe passage of the militants’ leaders.

There is much hope that this time, the rumor is true and soon Fr. Dall’Oglio will be reunited with both church and family. At the same time, the situation shows how ISIS uses the persecution of Christians as part of a longer strategy aimed at achieving their own longevity.

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