Syrian Catholic Archbishop Says More Than 300 Christians Taken Hostage by Islamic Extremists

Discusses Their Anguish, Warns Against Raising Unnecessary Alarm

There have been more than 300 Assyrian and Chaldean Christians of the villages on the river Khabur taken hostage and deported by the jihadists in their strongholds, reported Fides.

Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo said that while the first reports spoke of 90 seized, “now we can say that the hostages in the hands of the jihadists are around 350”.

Samir Taji, a member of the Al-Nusra Front (Syrian jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, ed) told Kurdish website ARA News that the militia of the Islamic State first held Assyrian prisoners, including women and children, in a detention center at Mount Abdulaziz. Then, he explained, it dispersed them in areas and centers under their control, including their stronghold of Raqqa.

There are forty Kurdish soldiers and Assyrian militiamen of the Brigade of self-protection Sutoro among the prisoners. At the moment, the flow of displaced people to the cities of Hassaké and Qamishli and other urban centers has ended. Yesterday, 50 Arab Bedouins, fleeing from the offensive area of the jihadists, arrived in Hassaké.

The Syrian Catholic archbishop noted that in this uncertain context, it is important to avoid the spread of uncontrolled and unverifiable rumors.

“The Christians who have fled from the villages of Khabur,” he said, “tell us that during the assault of the jihadists, four Assyrian militants, members of the self-defense militia known as the Assyrian Sutoro were killed.”

“Another Christian must be added to the list, who was burned to death because his shop was set on fire by jihadists. Perhaps he was also armed and had tried to oppose those of the Islamic State. At the moment, there are is no confirmed news of more deaths.”

Moreover, Archbishop Hindo again criticized the management of yet another humanitarian emergency on behalf of aid organizations. “Only yesterday,” he said, “Red Crescent distributed 125 food parcels, when thousands are available here in Hassaké. So far, the refugees had received aid only from the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate.”

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