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News / Thoughts

Islamic State takes up to 90 Christians – Update

Update: 25 Febraury

At least 72 Assyrian Christian families – thought to be around 200 people – have been captured from three villages by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Sources from Syria’s embattled Hassaka province report that families from the Tel Gouran, Tel Jazira and Tel Hormizd villages have been taken to the Arab Sunni village of Um Al-Masamier. The exact number of Christian hostages remains unknown.

An additional 50 or more families are still under siege in Tel Shamiram village, surrounded by IS fighters. Although Kurdish fighters are leading a fightback, the military struggle for Tel Shamiram is continuing.

Now, according to Archbishop Mar Aprem Nathniel, who serves in Hassaka City, only 200 Christian families remain in the Khabour region. He estimates that 1,000 families have fled from Khabour to the cities of Hassaka to the south and Qamishli close to the Turkish border.

Anti-Christian agenda

Calls from abroad to the mobile phones of some Assyrian villagers on February 23 were answered by IS members, according to a posting on the Facebook page of A Demand for Action, an advocacy group for religious minorities in the Middle East. “They told us that we should not call any longer since we cannot do anything about their situation,” said George Kasten, a Swedish caller trying to reach his relatives.

“IS members have been very clear with their demands,” he said. “They want the Syrian Kurdish militias to release the IS hostages they are currently holding. IS members say that if they do not release the hostages, all men from the village will die.”

IS has struck apparent exchange swaps in Iraq in the past year to release Turkish diplomats and truck drivers, after holding them hostage for months. But the gruesome propaganda video released from Libya earlier this month, showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians, has underlined once again the jihadist group’s clear anti-Christian agenda. On Monday, during the attack, a regional Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported that intercepted radio signals by IS referred to the capture of ’56 crusaders’.

Remove the crosses

There were unconfirmed reports that churches in Tel Hormizd and Tel Shamiram have been set on fire. At the beginning of February, IS jihadists had ordered Christians in the Hassaka region to remove the crosses from their churches and be prepared to pay a special tax, known as jizya.

Hassaka City is just 55 kilometers from the province’s eastern border with Iraq. The province is particularly strategic for the coalition fighting IS, as it is situated between Turkey and the Iraqi regions under the jihadists’ control. Assyrian Christians arrived in the region after 1933, fleeing the Kingdom of Iraq’s Simele massacre, which targeted ethnic Assyrians. They settled in villages along the Khabour river. Before the war began four years ago, there were about 400,000 Assyrian Christians in the region, some 5 percent of the national population.

Please pray…

  • For the safe return of the abducted Christian families
  • For protection for the families beseiged by the fighting around Tel Shamiram village
  • For the work of Open Doors and other agencies in supporting the displaced families from the region.

Source: World Watch Monitor


Original story: Posted 24th Feb

The Syrian Observatory for Human right is reporting from reliable sources that IS militants kidnapped at least 56 Assyrian citizens overnight in the village of Tal Shamiram near the the town of Tal Tamer in Syria.

The sources confirmed they heard via wireless devices IS members saying that they detained “56 crusaders”.

Other reports are also coming in that dozens of Assyrian people were kidnapped from the village of Tal Hermez and that IS executed 2 citizens for “dealing with Kurds” in the village of Ghibsh located after the town of Tal Tamer onwards Aleppo road.

Islamic State have targeted Christians, and any minority groups, that don’t follow their strict and extreme view of Islam. Known for brutal violence against all who oppose them, the Islamic State have spread fear and carnage across large parts of Iraq and Syria, and whilst these reports are unconfirmed, they are from a genuine source.

Source: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

Please pray…

  • For the safety, courage and release of those who were kidnapped
  • For those who took them to show mercy and to not react with violence
  • For strength and hope for the families and communities living on the borders of IS held territory. Give them safety.
  • Ask for an end to the war and fighting that is pulling apart Iraq and Syria

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