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Middle East

James Foley 'beheaded': Syrian activists in Kafranbel pay tribute to murdered American war journalist

Their thanks came after Mr Foley's parents said they had "never been so proud" of their son

Anti-government activists in Syria have paid tribute to American war journalist James Foley, who is believed to have been beheaded by militants Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

A freelance war journalist from Rochester, New Hampshire, Mr Foley disappeared in northern Syria in November 2012 when a car he was travelling in was stopped by militants in a contested battle zone.

A brutal propaganda video released on Tuesday by IS - formerly known as Isis - appeared to show Mr Foley kneeling on the ground in the desert, being beheaded by a black-clad rebel. A day later, US officials speaking on a condition of anonymity said they believe that the footage is real.

Separately, his parents confirmed on a Facebook page dedicated to their son’s release that the 40-year-old reporter had died. “We have never been prouder of our son Jim,” the page read.

Among the tributes pouring in for the murdered reporter who had been working as a freelancer for Agence France-Presse and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost were activists opposed to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Residents of the small town of Kafranbel in the province of Idlib, who are well known for their banners and political cartoons, praised the reporter who had lost his life documenting their country’s bloody revolution.

On Wednesday, the group tweeted a photo of men holding Syrian flags aloft next to a banner reading: "James Mr Foley’s will to expose Assad and Isis pushed him to sacrifice his blood to enlighten Obama’s vague vision. Humanity is proud of James."

Mr Foley’s murder marks the first time IS has killed an American citizen since the Syrian conflict broke out in March 2011, upping the stakes in an increasingly chaotic and multilayered war.

The killing has further complicated US involvement in Iraq and the Mr Obama administration's efforts to contain the group as it expands in both Iraq and Syria, after the IS militant who appeared to have beheaded Mr Foley threatened to kill another journalist, thought to be Steven Sotloff, depending on the US’ next move.