A conservative online publication has recently claimed that Syrian rebel forces are beheading Christians to drain their blood and sell it to Islamist radicals.
Jerome Corsi of World Net Daily reportedly talked with a nun in Syria via Skype who detailed for him the allegation.
"Sister Hatune Dogan told WND in a Skype interview that members of the Syrian opposition are draining the blood of Christians they behead and selling vials to Islamic radicals for $100,000 a piece," wrote Corsi.
"The Syrian Orthodox nun explained that the blood is used in a ritual washing of hands in the belief the act atones for sins and provides privileged access to heaven."
Ruled by the Assad family since the 1970s, Syria became inundated in 2011 with protests and calls for political reform as part of the regional "Arab Spring" movement.
The violent putdown of these protests by President Bashar Assad led to growing violent resistance against his government, which had been in power since 2000.
By 2012, opposition forces began mobilizing into military units and Syria entered into a period of civil war still presently ongoing.
Since the outbreak of the civil war, the nation's Christian minority has often been targeted by combatants. Violence has led many Christians in Syria to flee their homes within the war-torn country, subjecting them to harsh conditions.
Jerry Dykstra, media relations director for the persecution watchdog group Open Doors USA, told The Christian Post about the statistical situation.
"Before the start of the civil war three years ago, the Christian community comprised around 1.7 million people or 8 percent of the population," said Dykstra.
"Now it has shrunk to 1.3 million. Thousands have fled the country and are living in refugee camps in bordering countries."
When asked by CP about the WND claim about Christian blood-draining, Dykstra said that no such incidents had been discovered by Open Doors personnel.
"Open Doors field workers have never heard of such a thing. It could be true, but certainly not at a large scale," said Dykstra. "For sure, Islamist rebels are killing, torturing and raping Christians. They are caught in the middle of the fighting factions."
Corsi is no stranger to making controversial claims. The WND staff reporter has also claimed in print that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.