ISIS to Release 29 Assyrian Christian Hostages; May Have Killed 15 Others

An Iraqi Christian refugee woman adjusts a carpet depicting Virgin Mary and Jesus at her house in Arbil, about 300 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad, September 11, 2011.
An Iraqi Christian refugee woman adjusts a carpet depicting Virgin Mary and Jesus at her house in Arbil, about 300 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad, September 11, 2011. | (Photo: Reuters/Azad Lashkari)

Islamic State is likely to release 29 Assyrian Christian hostages, especially those who did not fight when the terror group attacked their villages and captured hundreds this week, but the Sunni militants may have already killed 15 Christian hostages, according to reports.

A Sharia Court of the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, in the Tal Tamer area of Syria's al-Hasakah province issued an order for the release of 29 Assyrian citizens, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which documents human rights situation in Syria, reported Saturday.

An Assyrian commander, who informed the Observatory about the court's order, said the fate of the other Assyrian Christian hostages will also be decided by Sharia courts.

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ISIS captured at least 220 Assyrians Christians on Monday after attacking villages around the town of Tal Tamer, according to the Observatory.

Assyrian International News Agency, or AINA, also reported that 18 to 21 Assyrians who were captured from the village of Tel Goran have been released. It added that ISIS agreed in principle to set them free because they did not fight back when ISIS attacked their villages.

Catholic Herald says the number of captured Assyrian Christians is about 350.

The Sweden-based founder of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, Osama Edward, puts the number at more than 262.

Herald also reported that ISIS militants have killed 15 of those captured.

"Around 15 young Assyrians are martyred. Many of them were fighting to defend and protect the villages and families," it quoted Abbot Emanuel Youkhana as saying. "It is believed there are casualties and many Assyrians have been killed in the village," he added.

Abbot Youkhana also said that the hostages have likely been transported to the nearby area of Mount Abdul Aziz, which is controlled by ISIS.

About 3,000 Assyrians have fled their villages after the ISIS attacks earlier this week, according to AINA.

Herald says there are no families left in the 35 Assyrian Christian villages of the area, and the only people left in the region are Christian militia fighters who are fighting alongside Kurdish troops.

Since last June, when ISIS declared its "caliphate," the terror group has killed 1,969 people, about two-thirds of them civilians, according to the Observatory.

ISIS is an offshoot of al-Qaeda and wants to establish a caliphate in the Levant region and beyond. It has gained control of large swathes of territories in Syria and Iraq.

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