A Catholic priest has been killed in northern Syria following an attack on a monastery by militants linked to a jihadi group.

The information service of the Pontifical Mission Societies confirmed 49-year-old François Murad was killed in Gassanieh where he had taken refuge.

Local sources report the monastery where Fr Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to Jabhat al-Nusra.

The Syrian priest had moved to the location for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining religious and nuns.

Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy said: "Lately, Fr Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world."

The 27-month-old conflict, which pits mostly Sunni insurgents against President Bashar al-Assad has already killed more than 100,000 people and driven 1.7 million Syrians to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.