On 24 November ten Assyrian Christians were released by Islamic State (IS) militants after being captured late last February. The five men and five women were abducted in a group of 230 Christians when 35 villages were overrun by IS along the Khabour River, Syria.
The release of the ten men and women was achieved after months of negotiations by church representatives, and it follows the release of 37 Christians (27 women and 10 men) on 9 November, who were taken captive in the same attack.
It is unknown exactly how many people from that group are still in captivity but, according to the Assyrian Human Rights Network, 158 Christians are still missing. A further 200 people or more – many of them Christians – were also captured by IS in August in al-Qaryatain, most of whom remain unaccounted for.
The threat of IS militants near the predominantly Christian town of Sadad has caused many to flee their homes in the past few weeks. Sadad was taken over by militants from Jabhat al-Nusra in October 2013, when at least 45 Christians were murdered and churches destroyed.
The violence in Syria has displaced more than 7.6 million Syrians internally, creating 4 million refugees in neighbouring countries, and prompting well over 400,000 Syrians to seek asylum in Europe.
About half of the Syrian pre-war population of 22 million inhabitants is now either a refugee or internally displaced.
Syrian Christians have requested that we pray for peace in the land. They ask for peace for all people who are affected by the ongoing violence, peace for the Christian communities, and God’s strength and protection for those in captivity. Here is a suggested prayer you can pray based on their requests:
I pray for those in Syria who have recently been released from captivity, that they will know Your comfort, healing and provision.
Please bless those who remain in captivity, that they will find refuge in You, know Your strength and protection, maintain a faithful witness to Christ, and be released soon.
I pray for those displaced from their homes, that they will know Your care and provision, and be able to return home soon.
Lord, I pray that the violence will cease, peace will be restored in the land and that a clear rule of fair law will be applied to all in Syria.
And, Father, I lift up those responsible for the murder and abduction of innocent civilians. May they know the Spirit’s conviction of sin, seek Your forgiveness and find new life in Your Son.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.