Monitoring Group Says ISIS Has Abducted 90 Christians in Syria

Islamic State militants have
abducted at least 90 people
from Assyrian Christian
villages in northeastern
Syria, a monitoring group
that tracks violence in Syria
said on Tuesday.
The British-based Syrian
Observatory for Human
Rights said 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.
Syrian Kurdish militia
launched two offensives on
Sunday against the militants
in northeast Syria, helped by
U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi
peshmerga.
This part of Syria is
strategically important in the
fight against Islamic State
because it borders territory
controlled by the group in
Iraq, where it last year
committed atrocities against
the minority religioMany Assyrian Christians
have emigrated in the nearly
four-year-long conflict in
which more than 200,000
have people have been killed.
Before the arrival of Kurds
and Arab nomadic tribes at
the end of the 19th century,
Christians formed the
majority in Syria’s Jazeera
area, which includes Hasaka.
Sunday’s offensive by
Kurdish YPG militia reached
within three miles of Tel
Hamis, an Islamic State
controlled town south east of
Qamishli, the Observatory
said.
At least 14 Islamic State
fighters died in the offensive,
which involved Assyrian
fighters, and eight civilians
were also killed in heavy
shelling by the Kurdish side
which seized several Arab
villages from Islamic State
control, the monitoring group
said.
Last year, Islamic State
fighters abducted several
Assyrians in retaliation for
some of them fighting
alongside the YPG. Most were
released after long
negotiations.us Yazidi
community.Military experts following
Syria said Islamic State was
trying to open a new front to
relieve pressure on the group
after the string of losses since
being driven from the Syrian
town of Kobani near the
border with Turkey.
”Islamic State are losing in
several areas so they want to
wage an attack on a new
area,” said retired Jordanian
general Fayez Dwiri.
Since driving the Islamic
State from Kobani, Kurdish
forces, backed by other
Syrian armed groups, have
pursued the group’s fighters
as far as their provincial
stronghold of Raqqa.
A resident of Hasaka, which is
jointly held by the Syrian
government and the Kurds,
said hundreds of families had
arrived in the last few days
from surrounding Christian
villages and of Arab Bedouin
refugees were arriving from
areas along the border.
”Families are coming to
Hasaka seeking safety,” said
Abdul Rahman al-Numai, a
textile trader said via
telephone.