ISIS attacks Syria Christians

Dozens of Assyrians were kidnapped from two villages in the Hasakeh province.

Assyrian flag. (AFP/Mohammed Sawaf)

BEIRUT – Islamic State (ISIS) group militants in northeastern Syria have launched attacks on Assyrian-populated villages, kidnapping dozens of civilians amid the fierce fighting in the Hasakeh province. 


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Tuesday that at least 90 Assyrians had been kidnapped from the two villages of Tel Shamiram and Tel Hurmuz.


The monitoring organization in a previous report cited “trusted sources” as saying they heard ISIS members boasting over wireless radio that they had captured dozens of “crusader prisoners.”


The two villages are located near Tel Tamr, a Hasakeh province town on the Aleppo-Mosul international highway where Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) forces in recent days have launched a broad campaign aiming to seize ISIS-held bastions.


An advocacy group campaigning for the protection of Assyrian Christians raised the alarm on the kidnapping, providing an account of the ISIS attack.


A Demand for Action said ISIS stormed two villages around Tel Tamr Monday at dawn and “kidnapped all of the villagers.”


“The men were later brought to a mountain called Abd al-Aziz to be held as hostages,” the group also said, citing an eyewitness left behind in the town due to poor health.


“Women and children were left in the village with IS guards controlling them.”


A Demand for Action added that activists attempted to call their relatives in the villages, only to reach ISIS militants who demanded Kurdish YPG fighters release captured fellow Islamists.


“[ISIS] members say that if they do not release the hostages, all innocent men from the village will die.”


In a follow up report, A Demand for Action said that all the villages south of the Khabour River near Tel Tamr had been evacuated, with around 400 families seeking refuge in the nearby cities of Hasakeh and Qamishli, a Kurdish-populated area along the Turkish border.


“In total, roughly 3000 persons have been displaced,” the report said, adding that between 70 to 100 have been kidnapped, while one church was burned down.


Meanwhile, the group said inhabitants of 20 Assyrian villages north of the Khabour River “have not yet fled” as ISIS continues to battle not only the Kurds but Christian militiamen.


Kurds and Christians vs. ISIS


The kidnapping comes amid back-and-forth fighting in the Hasakeh province that has seen Christian fighters join Kurds in their campaign aiming to seize Tel Hamis, a strategic ISIS-held town.


YPG fighters over the weekend pressed their offensive outside Tel Hamis, seizing a number of villages in their ongoing campaign; however ISIS struck back on Monday, taking over areas outside Tel Tamr while shelling the town itself.


Meanwhile, the Syriac Military Council (MFS) announced in a statement Monday that it had joined the anti-ISIS campaign outside Tel Hamis alongside the Kurds.


“The victory of our freedom fighters in Tel Hamis lead to a counterattack from ISIS in the Khabour region [outside Tel Tamr] in the early morning hours of Monday,” it said in a statement.


The group confirmed that ISIS had taken control over a number of villages outside Tel Tamr, including the villages of Tel Shamiram and Tel Hurmuz, where the Assyrians had been kidnapped.


The Syriac Military Council added that four of its soldiers fighting in defense of Tel Hurmuz were missing and presumed dead.


“The fights are still continuing… our ultimate goal is to retake all the villages, so that families can return to their homes.”


The Christian fighting group, formed in January 2013, operates in Syriac-populated areas, including Aleppo, Latakia and Hasakeh. The group has previously joined YPG offensives against ISIS, including in Tel Hamis in late 2013.


Fighting continued Tuesday, with the SOHR reporting that 14 ISIS members were killed by coalition airstrikes southeast of Tel Hamis, while YPG troops advanced against ISIS forces along the border with Iraq.

Assyrian flag. (AFP/Mohammed Sawaf)

[ISIS] members say that if they do not release the hostages, all innocent men from the village will die.

  • ZizouZeGreat

    @ Hanibaal: I feel sorry for you, I really do. I must be really hard for you to be living in such a state, drowning in your own hatred, angst, and resentment. Had the "Sunni establishment" really wanted to be part of Syria as you claim, the situation today would have been a lot different. Rafiq Hariri would not have been assassinated in the first place. I'm no fan of Mr. Hariri Jr., by the way, I think his politics is pathetic. I count on people like you to convince the Sunnis in Lebanon that they have no real partner in the country, and to show the Sunnis how stupid Hariri Jr.'s policies are.

    February 24, 2015

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Please don't be sorry for me. Be sorry for yourself. I am actually enjoying to watch my enemies at each other's throat, after they skewered me for 40 years. Hariri Sr. was assassinated by his Syrian masters with whom he collaborated for 15 years. Hariri engineered the Taif Agreement, rode to power on the Syrian coattails, enabled Hezbollah to become the monster it is today, defended Hezbollah and the Syrian occupation of his own country for years.... If he was assassinated by his own masters, it is because, in his ignorance and ineptitude, he thought he could rebuild Lebanon under occupation. It took him 15 years to realize his mistake. By that time, the Hezbollah and the Syria he served had become too powerful to allow a spineless collaborator like him to change course, and they killed him. He paid for his mistakes, and the whole country is still paying for his mistake. Had he had courage and integrity, he could have stood up to the Syrians and to Hezbollah from his first day in office. But he never did, not even in September 2004 when he returned to Beirut to execute Assad's orders. Why didn't he refuse Assad's orders? Because he might kill him? But he killed him anyway. He could have at least died in dignity. But he was more interested in Solidere, stealing people's money and refurbishing a few buildings in downtown Beirut. Are you one of those who love Hariri because he gave you a scholarship to earn a degree that you could not use in this country? Any idiot with Hariri's money could have done the same things. He had neither the leadership nor the vision nor the education to understand what it really takes to lift this country out of the Stone Age. He used his money to cement his shallow superiority over a decaying environment instead of working to stop the decay. Just like his Saudi bosses.

    February 24, 2015

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Lebanon's Muslims, at the height of the Sunni-Druse war on the Lebanese State in the 1970s and 1980s, used to call the Christian Lebanese "crusaders" and "isolationists" (because the Christians wanted to shield Lebanon from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ) Guess who is the isolationist today (the النأي عن النفس policy)? The same Sunnis who destroyed Lebanon in collusion with the Palestinian gangsters just to score a petty victory with the Taif Agreement. The hens have come home to roost. I will never trust Lebanon's Sunni establishment, much as I don't trust Hezbollah either. But the Sunnis have never recognized Lebanon's right to exist as an independent nation. They always - and still do today - wanted to be part of Syria. I wish they had managed to attach Tripoli, Beirut, Saida, Akkar and the Muslim regions to Syria back in the 1920s; They would be having a good time today!

    February 24, 2015