Islamic State in Syria kidnaps at least 150 Christians

Islamic State has kidnapped at least 150 Assyrian Christians in dawn raids on villages in northeastern Syria.

And they may not be finished.

It appears that the abductions may be in retaliation for local Assyrians joining the Kurds in fighting IS. Some other Assyrian villages are surrounded by IS fighters, putting hundreds more Christians at risk.

Reuters:

A Syrian Christian group representing several NGOs inside and outside the country said it had verified at least 150 people missing, including women and the elderly, who had been kidnapped by the militants.

"We have verified at least 150 people who have been adducted from sources on the ground," Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, whose family itself is from Hasaka, told Reuters from Amman.

Earlier the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 90 were abducted when the militants carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.

The United States condemned the attacks in Hasaka and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the civilians taken captive. The State Department said hundreds of others remain trapped in villages surrounded by Islamic State fighters in violence that has displaced more than 3,000 people.

"ISIL’s latest targeting of a religious minority is only further testament to its brutal and inhumane treatment of all those who disagree with its divisive goals and toxic beliefs," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Psaki added that Syrians are also threatened by President Bashar al-Assad's intensified bombings and air strikes in an "unrelenting campaign of terror."

Syrian Kurdish militia launched two offensives against the militants in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped by U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga.

This part of Syria borders territory controlled by Islamic State in Iraq, where it committed atrocities last year against the Yazidi religious minority.

Islamic State did not confirm the kidnappings. Supporters posted photos online of the group's fighters in camouflage attire looking at maps and firing machine guns. The website said the photos were from Tel Tamr, a town near where the Observatory said the abductions occurred.

The Kurds are making good progress in their offensive, cutting one of Islamic State's supply lines from Iraq:

The new Kurdish offensive launched at the weekend was focused on dislodging Islamic State from areas some 100 km (60 miles) further to the east, including Tel Hamis, a town that is one of its strongholds.

The Observatory said at least 132 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the fighting since Feb. 21. Mahmoud, the Kurdish official, said seven members of the Kurdish YPG militia had been killed, including one foreigner.

He said he did not know where the foreigner was from, but British and U.S. citizens have gone to fight with the YPG against Islamic State. A second Kurdish official confirmed a foreigner was "martyred" but declined to give further details.

In a telephone interview from the city of Qamishli, he said the YPG had cut a main road linking Tel Hamis with al-Houl, a town just a few kilometers from the Iraqi border.

"This is the main artery for Daesh," he said, using an acronym for Islamic State. The Kurdish YPG militia had seized more than 100 villages from Islamic State in the area, he added.

"We believe we will finish the battle of Tel Hamis in this campaign," he added.

Videos posted online by the YPG showed Kurdish fighters firing at Islamic State positions in Hasaka.

One can imagine the fate of Christians taken by Islamic State. They will continue to depopulate the Middle East of Christians unless and until someone makes them stop.

Islamic State has kidnapped at least 150 Assyrian Christians in dawn raids on villages in northeastern Syria.

And they may not be finished.

It appears that the abductions may be in retaliation for local Assyrians joining the Kurds in fighting IS. Some other Assyrian villages are surrounded by IS fighters, putting hundreds more Christians at risk.

Reuters:

A Syrian Christian group representing several NGOs inside and outside the country said it had verified at least 150 people missing, including women and the elderly, who had been kidnapped by the militants.

"We have verified at least 150 people who have been adducted from sources on the ground," Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, whose family itself is from Hasaka, told Reuters from Amman.

Earlier the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 90 were abducted when the militants carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.

The United States condemned the attacks in Hasaka and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the civilians taken captive. The State Department said hundreds of others remain trapped in villages surrounded by Islamic State fighters in violence that has displaced more than 3,000 people.

"ISIL’s latest targeting of a religious minority is only further testament to its brutal and inhumane treatment of all those who disagree with its divisive goals and toxic beliefs," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Psaki added that Syrians are also threatened by President Bashar al-Assad's intensified bombings and air strikes in an "unrelenting campaign of terror."

Syrian Kurdish militia launched two offensives against the militants in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped by U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga.

This part of Syria borders territory controlled by Islamic State in Iraq, where it committed atrocities last year against the Yazidi religious minority.

Islamic State did not confirm the kidnappings. Supporters posted photos online of the group's fighters in camouflage attire looking at maps and firing machine guns. The website said the photos were from Tel Tamr, a town near where the Observatory said the abductions occurred.

The Kurds are making good progress in their offensive, cutting one of Islamic State's supply lines from Iraq:

The new Kurdish offensive launched at the weekend was focused on dislodging Islamic State from areas some 100 km (60 miles) further to the east, including Tel Hamis, a town that is one of its strongholds.

The Observatory said at least 132 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the fighting since Feb. 21. Mahmoud, the Kurdish official, said seven members of the Kurdish YPG militia had been killed, including one foreigner.

He said he did not know where the foreigner was from, but British and U.S. citizens have gone to fight with the YPG against Islamic State. A second Kurdish official confirmed a foreigner was "martyred" but declined to give further details.

In a telephone interview from the city of Qamishli, he said the YPG had cut a main road linking Tel Hamis with al-Houl, a town just a few kilometers from the Iraqi border.

"This is the main artery for Daesh," he said, using an acronym for Islamic State. The Kurdish YPG militia had seized more than 100 villages from Islamic State in the area, he added.

"We believe we will finish the battle of Tel Hamis in this campaign," he added.

Videos posted online by the YPG showed Kurdish fighters firing at Islamic State positions in Hasaka.

One can imagine the fate of Christians taken by Islamic State. They will continue to depopulate the Middle East of Christians unless and until someone makes them stop.