ISIS Abducts 220 Christian Civilians, Burns Two Churches in Syria

In their latest terror campaign, ISIS militants in Syria have rounded up 220 Christian civilians in the past three days, according to reports Thursday from the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The jihadists also burned two Christian churches during their raids.

The kidnappings took place in 11 different villages in the Tal Tamir countryside in al-Hasakah. The Observatory states that the prisoners have been taken to the Abd al-Aziz mount to the southwest of Tal Tamir.

“These were peaceful villages that had nothing to do with the battles,” said Nasir Haj Mahmoud, a Kurdish official in the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in northeastern Syria.

Mahmoud said that some Christians are fighting under the YPG in Hasaka province, but not in that area.

On Tuesday, Islamic State militants moved toward al-Hasakah’s southern border and abducted upwards of 70 Christians from the village of Tal Shamiram.

In an attempt to liberate the captives, mediators from Arabian tribes along with an unnamed Assyrian are endeavoring to negotiate with the kidnappers.

According to reports, in recent days ISIS has taken control of ten villages in the Tal Tamir area, resulting in widespread displacement of Christian citizens.

“We cannot give a specific number of Assyrians that have fled, but it hasn’t been a very large number of people, because Assyrians are a very small minority in Syria,” said Rami Abdul Rahman of the Observatory. “The only areas where Assyrians are left, even before the war, is in Hasakah province and small villages surrounding there.”

According to the Observatory, some Syrian Christians are fighting back against ISIS.

The Syriac Military Council is an Assyrian Christian militia (MFS), the armed wing of the Mesopotamia National Council (MUB), which represents the Assyrian Christians in Syria, who are located primarily in the northeastern al-Hasakah province.

The MFS is the only fighting group representing just the Assyrian population, and has some 800 soldiers who work in tandem with the YPG.

“For me, I just want the Islamic State to know that despite how many people they kill, bomb our churches, we are Assyrian Christians, we will never leave our people here or our country,” said Matai Nazha, a 20-year-old fighter.

On Wednesday, Kurdish militia managed to cut off one of ISIS’ supply lines from Iraq. A Kurdish official who wished to remain nameless said the YPG had taken control of a main road linking Tel Hamis with al-Houl, a town near the Iraqi border. He described the road as the “main artery” for the Islamic State.

“We believe we will finish the battle of Tel Hamis in this campaign,” he said.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.


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