ISIS releases 19 Christians, more than 200 still captive – activists
Reuters/Mar. 01, 2015
BEIRUT: ISIS released 19 Assyrian Christian captives in Syria on Sunday after processing them through a sharia court, a monitoring group which tracks the conflict said. More than 200 Assyrians remain in Islamic State hands, said the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, captives from an Islamic State advance last month that overran more than a dozen villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority near Hasaka, a northeastern city mainly held by the Kurds. Islamic State has not claimed any of the abductions. The Observatory tracks the conflict using a network of sources on all sides of the civil war which spiralled as security forces used violence to suppress protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule in 2011. It said 17 men and two women were released. Islamic State has killed members of religious minorities and Sunni Muslims who do not swear allegiance to its self-declared “caliphate”. The group last month released a video showing its members beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.
Update From Walid Phares DC:
Some Syrian Christians fled their ISIS invaded village to free areas…According to the “Council of Syriac Organizations” CSO source, twenty one Assyrians, mostly elderly, from the captured village of Tal Goran in North East Syria have been able to flee to Al-Hasaka region. According to the source, “they are now located in the Assyrian Church of Al-Hasaka.” The source said; “It is still not confiLCCCrmed if these Syriac-Assyrians have been released by ISIS or if they have been able to flee on their own. At the moment nobody is allowed to talk to them. Only the bishop of the Assyrian Church, Afram Athanael is communicating with them.” What was not clear in the CSO information is where did these elderly come from? Did they escape ISIS or were they released against ISIS hostages. No further explanation was released by the CSO so far. A source from MECHRIC, a federation of Middle East Christian NGOs said “we need to see a direct involvement of US and allies resources to follow up on these kidnapping and more importantly in arming and training the minorities in north east Syria. For arming and training the Muslim Brotherhood linked militias in Turkey to clash with ISIS, is not the solution, or the best solution at this time.”
AINA: 19 Assyrians Released By ISIS But Hundreds Remain Captured
Assyrian International News Agency
Hasaka, Syria (AINA) — 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.
Of the 19 that were released, 17 were women and 2 were men. But not all who were captured from Tel Goran were released. One of the hostages, an elderly woman, said that ISIS did not release her son and 2 other men who were guarding the village.
ISIS also refused to release a 6 year old girl. According to reports from the released hostages, ISIS said it plans to use the girl as a bargaining chip. The girl’s mother was released but would not leave her daughter behind and stayed with her.
The hostages looked tired and disheveled but were otherwise unharmed.
The number of Assyrians captured by ISIS is between 262 and 373. With the release of this group of 19, the number still being held by ISIS remains in the hundreds. According to Assyrian leaders, negotiations for the release of the remainder of the hostages are ongoing.
On March 24 ISIS attacked the Assyrian villages of Tel Goran, Tel Hurmiz, Tel Tamar, Tel Baloaa Tel Shamiran, Tel Riman, Tel Nasra, Tel Khareta, Tel Jazira, Tel Fweidat, Qaber Shamiyeh and Abu Tena.
Nine Assyrian fighters died defending their villages in the initial attacks and there are reports that ISIS has executed at least 12 Assyrian fighters who were captured, two of them women.
The majority of the Assyrians were captured from Tel Shamiran, Tel Hurmiz, Tel Goran and Tel Jazira (AINA 2015-02-26).
Nearly 3000 Assyrians have fled from the 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur river to Hasaka and Qamishli. There is a critical need for shelter for the refugees.