The Assyrian International News Agency reports a dash of good news from the bubbling cauldron of horror that is the Islamic State: “19 Assyrians that were captured from the village of Tel Goran have been released by ISIS and have arrived safely at St. Mary’s Church in Hasaka, Syria. Negotiations for their release had been ongoing for three days and were mediated by local Arab tribal leaders.”
That’s 19 Assyrians freed out of some 250 to 375 taken captive, although Assyrian leaders are said to be negotiating for more releases. Since this is ISIS, even its prisoner releases are scenes of heartless brutality: one elderly woman was released while her son was kept captive, while another pregnant woman was forced to leave her 6-year-old daughter behind, pending the delivery of a cash ransom.
The AINA report also mentions nine Assyrians killed while defending their villages from ISIS, and at least a dozen more who were executed after being taken prisoner, including two women. Another 3,000 refuges have been driven out of their homes by the Islamic State and are seeking shelter.
The Christian Post says the order to release the Assyrian hostages came from “a sharia court of the Islamic State terror group” located in the “Tal Tamer area of Syria’s al-Hasakah province.” Working from a report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Post says this order covered a total of 29 hostages, with an Assyrian commander saying that the fate of the remaining hostages “will also be decided by sharia courts.” ABC News in Australia says that an unspecified ransom was paid to secure the release of the 19 Assyrians freed this weekend, money the sharia courts regarded as a form of jizya, the tax of submission paid by conquered non-Muslims to their Muslim overlords.
The Kurdish news agency Rudaw says the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, have “announced they are ready to exchange prisoners with the Islamic States in an attempt to save the lives of Assyrian Christians held by the militants.” There are said to be six hundred ISIS prisoners currently held by the YPG. The announcement was made to a Swedish news network by Zohat Kobani, a representative of the Democratic Union Party, a splinter faction of the Kurdish resistance movement against the Assad regime in Syria.