In a move that baffled the international community, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS chose to release 19 Assyrian Christians from captivity on Sunday. At first, no one was sure the hostages were actually released.
Video footage surfaced of the release of the 19 Christians by ISIS.
According to the Associated Press, the news was confirmed by Bashir Saedi, a senior official with the Assyrian Democratic Organization and the Assyrian Human Rights Network. The Assyrian Human Rights Network shared images of the release on their Facebook page.
While there has yet to be an official reason given for the move to release the 19 hostages, there are a couple of theories that have surfaced. Saedi stated that of the 19 Assyrian Christians that were let go, there were three women and 16 men. All persons were over the age of 50. This lead to the theory that ISIS may have released these prisoners specifically due to their age.
The Assyrian Human Rights Network, meanwhile, states that the 19 hostages were only let go after an undisclosed amount of money was paid as a sort of “tax” on non-Muslims. With these conditions allegedly satisfied, the release of the Christians was supposedly ordered by a Shariah court.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 2, 2015
This account is partially supported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain. Although the Syrian Observatory credits a Shariah court order for the release of Christian hostages, the reason is unknown.
Although the move to let go of 19 Christians remains a mystery, more disconcerting is the fate of the nearly 200 Assyrian Christians still held by ISIS. Hundreds of people were captured by ISIS troops last week. Whole families were kidnapped from their homes in villages near the Khabur River in the Hassakeh Province in Syria.
The 19 Christians who were released were said to have been put on a bus in the ISIS-occupied town of Shaddadeh and sent to freedom. This is a small comfort as many are still petrified for the 200 men, women, and children who are currently at the mercy of ISIS.
Activists have stated that Sunni sheikhs and Assyrian leaders are attempting to reach out to ISIS and negotiate for the lives of the dozens of Christian families who remain in captivity.
Assyrian Democratic Organization official Younan Talia said that the group was “reaching out” to anyone they thought could help bring the 200 Christians home, but they are racing against time and the brutal nature of ISIS.
Although this small group of Assyrian Christians was released unharmed, other non-Muslims are typically treated in a far more brutal fashion. It’s not unusual for Christians captured by ISIS soldiers to be killed or enslaved.
Why do you think ISIS let these hostages go? Do you believe ISIS can or should be negotiated with?
[Image Credit: Newsy]