WASHINGTON, November 17 (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama confirmed the beheading of US citizen Peter Kassig, captured by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and offered his condolences to the family Sunday.
"Today we offer our prayers and condolences to the parents and family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter. We cannot begin to imagine their anguish at this painful time," Obama said in a statement published by the White House's press service.
"Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity… Abdul-Rahman was a humanitarian, who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed by the Syrian conflict… ISIL's actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own," the president added.
Earlier on Sunday Islamic State militant group claimed to have beheaded US Peter Kassig and released a video, showing the aftermath of the killing, as well as beheading of several captured Syrian soldiers. The victim was not clearly recognizable, and has been verified by the US authorities.
Keeping hope alive, Kassig's family released a statement claiming they would wait for the official confirmation of the US government.
Peter Kassig, a Muslim convert, who worked for the relief organization he founded to aid Syrian refugees, Special Emergency Response and Assistance (SERA), was captured in eastern Syria in October 2013. In June this year he wrote a letter to his parents, saying he was scared to die. In early October Islamic State posted a video threatening to kill Kassig.
The IS has already executed American reporter James Foley, American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines and British aid worker Alan Henning. The jihadists explain they are killing hostages in retaliation to US-led air strikes targeting IS militants.
The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq, declaring a caliphate on the territories it had seized.
In August, the United States started launching airstrikes against IS positions in Iraq. In September, attacks by the United States and its allies were extended to Syria.