Damascus, Syria – Militants fighting for The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has reportedly abducted as many as 250 people from Syria’s Assyrian Christian communities including women and children.
The victims were seized from nearly a dozen villages in northeastern Syria as the area was raided by ISIS fighters, Christian Syrian activists reported. On Tuesday, a Syrian Christian group representing several NGO both inside and outside of Syria claims it had verified at least 150 people were missing, including women and elderly, who had been kidnapped by the militants. “We have verified at least 150 people who have been abducted from sources on the ground,” Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council of Syria, whose family is from Hasaka said from Amman.
Earlier the United Kingdom based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 90 members of the Assyrian Christian population were abducted when the militants carried out early morning raids on rural villages of the Assyrian Christians who have ancient roots in the community, living in the region for thousands of years. The villages were located west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.
Wednesday the United States condemned the recent attacks by ISIS on the Assyrian Christian community which it said included not only the abduction of hundreds of civilians but the burning of homes and Christian churches in the community. “This is but the latest round of atrocities perpetrated by ISIL [ISIS] against the innocent people of the region,” The White House said of the reported atrocities in a Statement.
ISIS has not confirmed the abductions. However, ISIS has posted photos of posted photos of its militants in camouflage, carrying weapons, on its website. The website said the photos were taken in Tel Tamr, a town nearby where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the abductions occurred. National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said. “The international community stands united and undeterred in its resolve to bring an end to ISIL’s depravity. The United States will continue to lead the fight to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.”
Many Assyrian Christians have fled Syria since the Syrian Civil war has threatened the stability of their homeland. The Syrian Civil war has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people over the past four years. Last year, ISIS fighters abducted several Assyrians Christians in retaliation for some members of the Assyrian community taking up arms and fighting alongside the Kurdish fighting forces known as the YPG. Most of the abducted were released after long negotiations.
Before the arrival of Kurds and Arab nomadic tribes at the end of the 19th century, Assyrian Christians were the majority in Syria’s Jazeera area, which includes the city of Hasaka. However, the now minority Christians have faced historic marginalization and now horrific attacks from extremist groups like ISIS. In recent weeks ISIS has carried out horrific attacks on Christians, including the brutal murder of Coptic Christians in Libya, as well as other religious minorities and fellow Muslims who do not share their distorted and medieval interpretation of Islam.