The 52 Assyrian Christian families who were among hundreds of hostages captured by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) have not been released as reported, according to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA).
“According to the Vatican ambassador in Damascus, Mario Zinari, 52 Assyrian families who were captured by ISIS and who were supposed to be freed [March 10] have not been released because Kurdish forces bombed the caravan containing the families,” reports AINA. “After the bombing ISIS decided to delay their release. There is no information on whether ISIS intends to go through with their release.”
“It is not clear why Kurdish forces bombed the Assyrian hostages caravan,” it adds.
ISIS has reportedly executed at least 12 Assyrian fighters who were kidnapped after they attempted to defend their villages from the ISIS offensive on February 23.
“Local witnesses report that, following the offensive, more than 5,000 Assyrians (out of 30,000) decided to leave the country, choosing exile for security reason,” reports AINA. “Their community is one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East.”
“Earlier this month the terrorists released a first group of 19 Christians, after the payment of a ransom of about $1,700 each,” it adds.
According to AINA, the jihadist group stormed approximately 35 different Christian villages in Syria and abducted between 263 to 373 people, including women and children.
A released hostage told AINA that ISIS ordered that the captives convert to Islam, but they all refused.