Assyrian Christians kidnapped by ISIS in Syria

Around 70 – 90 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, have been abducted after IS fighters swept through a string of villages along the banks of the Khabur river in northeastern Syria, around dawn on Monday.  The area is predominantly inhabited by Assyrians, an indigenous Christian people who trace their roots back to the ancient Mesopotamians. Assyrians have been predominantly Christian since the 3rd Century AD.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that monitors conflict in Syria, said most of the captives were taken from the village of Tal Shamran, about 28 miles from the largely Kurdish-controlled city of Hassakeh.

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It is reported that about 3,000 managed to escape and have sought refuge in Hassakeh and Qamishli, to the north-east. Hassakeh province is strategically important in the fight against IS because it borders both Turkey and areas controlled by the group in Iraq.

The Islamic State group’s online radio station, al-Bayan, said in a report today (Tuesday) that IS fighters had detained “tens of crusaders” and seized 10 villages around Tal Tamr after clashes with Kurdish militiamen. IS frequently refers to Christians as “crusaders.”

It was not immediately clear what the Islamic State group planned to do with the Assyrians.

The militants have a long history of killing captives, including foreign journalists, Syrian soldiers and Kurdish militiamen. Most recently, militants in Libya affiliated with the Islamic State group released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.