ISIL Releases 23 Assyrian Christian Abductees in Syria
21:23 01.03.2015(updated 02:04 02.03.2015)
Islamic State has freed 23 Assyrian Christians abducted in Syria, over 100 prisoners still languish in captivity, according to a main Assyrian church of Lebanon priest.
The extremist Islamic State group has released 23 of over 100 Christian Assyrians kidnapped earlier this week in northwest Syria, a main Assyrian church of Lebanon priest told RIA Novosti.
'We got in touch with our people by phone, they [ISIL] did indeed release 23 people, including an elderly woman. They are in the church [in the town of Hasakah] in safety,' Priest Sargon said Sunday.
He added that the captives made reassurances the rest of the hostages are alive and may also be released soon.
Media reports emerged earlier in the day say the Islamic State planning to release scores of Assyrian Christian minorities captured over the past week across towns and villages in northern Syria.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), ISIL controls 10 Assyrian villages in the nearby area of Tall Tamr (Tal Tamer). SOHR also estimated that a total of 220 Assyrians have been kidnapped by ISIL.
The prisoners were abducted by the militants February, during a large-scale ISIL's advance near Hasaka, a northeastern city held by the Kurds. The Islamic State fighters have reportedly seized more than a dozen villages, inhabited by Assyrian minority.
The jihadists have repeatedly slaughtered members of various religious groups, including Shiite, Christians and those Sunni who opposed the Islamists.
Last month ISIL released a video of the hideous decapitation of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya.
Assyrians are an ethnic group residing in parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Assyrians adopted Christianity in the first century and are considered to be the oldest ethnic group practicing the religion.
Islamic State is an extremist group practicing a Salafi branch of Sunni Islam that has held parts of Syria and Iraq since at least last year. It is infamous for egregious violence toward national and religious minorities and has gained notoriety for numerous abductions, killings, desecration of religious and historic institutions.
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