World Bulletin / News Desk
Syria's main opposition coalition on Tuesday condemned the killing of a Dutch priest in the embattled central city of Homs, vowing to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"We have heard with the utmost sorrow and shock the news of the martyrdom of Father Frans Van der Lugt in Old Homs," the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) said in a statement.
It added that the priest, who originally hails from Holland, had lived in Syria for 35 years.
"[Van der Lugt] had endured, along with the Syrian people, the suffering caused by the regime's blockade [on Homs,]" the SNC statement read.
On Monday, the septuagenarian priest was beaten before being shot in the head by masked assailants who dragged him outside his monastery in the Bostan al-Diwan district of Old Homs, Syrian opposition activists said.
The SNC also hinted that the Syrian regime, which has been besieging rebel-held parts of the city for over 18 months, could be involved in the priest's killing.
"The Bashar al-Assad regime has always targeted anyone who… spoke out against its oppression and criminality," the SNC asserted, noting the priest's appearance in earlier footage in which he spoke of deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Homs.
Syrian regime officials, for their part, have yet to comment on the priest's death.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon denounced Van der Lugt's murder, calling it an "inhumane act of violence against a man who heroically stood by the people of Syria amid the sieges and growing difficulties."
At a daily press briefing on Monday, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki likewise condemned Van der Lugt's killing.
More than 150,000 people have been killed during the three-year-old conflict in Syria, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The U.N. puts the number of Syrians to have been internally displaced by the crisis at over 6.5 million, while another 2.6 million have sought refuge abroad, according to the world body.Last Mod: 08 Nisan 2014, 13:50