Islamic State Militants have kidnapped at least 90 Assyrian Christians in northeast Syria, after overrunning two villages in Hassakeh province. The BBC reports that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 90 men, women, and children were seized in a series of dawn raids near the town of Tal Tamr.
According to CNN, Assyrians in northeastern Syria villages awoke Tuesday to find Islamic State militants at their doors at around 4 a.m. The Islamic State fighters abducted scores from the Christian group and forced hundreds more to run for their lives. Islamic State, sometimes known as ISIS, has attacked numerous minority groups like the Assyrians during its bloody campaign to impose its extreme version of Sharia law across large swathes of Syria and Iraq.
According to the New York Times, the predominantly Sunni Islamic State fighters have ransacked churches, demolished Shiite and Sunni Muslim shrines, and enslaved women of the Yazidi community, a tiny sect Islamic State considers heretical. There are no immediate details on those kidnapped, or where they were being held.
The Islamic State group’s online radio station, said in a report that Islamic State fighters had detained “tens of crusaders” and seized 10 villages around Tal Tamr after clashes with Kurdish militiamen. Islamic State frequently refers to Christians as “crusaders.”
According to the Mail, the 90 Assyrians were kidnapped after Islamic State overran the villages of Tal Shamiram and Tal Hermuz, which had been under the control of Kurdish fighters. There were fierce firefights for control of the villages between Islamic State and Kurds yesterday.
The mass abduction by Islamic State appears to be the first incident of it’s kind in Syria, but the group is infamous for its brutal treatment of hostages and they have carried out mass kidnapping of minority Kurdish Yazidis in Iraq. Islamic State also abducted dozens of Kurdish students in Syria last year, freeing them only after months in captivity. The group have frequently been condemned for the barbaric treatment of hostages, including carrying out beheadings of foreign journalists, Syrian and Iraqi soldiers, as well as Kurdish militiamen, and posting video’s on the internet.
Just last week the Islamic State’s Libyan branch released a video showing the gruesome beheading of 21 mostly Egyptian Coptic Christians, and this obviously raises fears that a similar fate awaits those kidnapped today.
There is, however, a possibility that Islamic State could use its captives to try to arrange a prisoner swap with the Kurdish and Christian militias it is battling in northeastern Syria. There is a precedent for this, as the extremists have released Kurdish school children and diplomats after holding them for months.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]