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ISIS Releases 22 Assyrian Christians Captured in February, But Hundreds More Still Held

Dan Wooding : Aug 13, 2015
ASSIST News Service

The number of Assyrians still being held is now 205.

(Syria)—[ANS] The self-styled Islamic State (IS) terror group, has released 22 Assyrians that it captured on February 23 when it attacked the 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur river in the Hasaka province. (Photo via AINA)

According to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), Islamic State, also known as ISIS, captured 253 in the initial attack and drove 3,000 Assyrians from their villages. Most have not returned.

The 22 Assyrians who were released, 14 of them women, were from the villages of Tal Shamiram and Tal Jazira. The number of Assyrians still being held is now 205.

IS released Assyrians on the following dates:

• August 11: 22 released

• June 16: Francois Sawa released

• May 26: two elderly women released, Ramziyya Rehana (80) from Tel Jazira and Yoniyya Kanoon (70) from Tel Shamiran

• March 3: Two Assyrians from Tel Shamiram were released, Yatroun Marko and his wife Wardiyya Yonan. Two Assyrians from Tel Goran were released, 6 year-old Mariana Mirza and her father's aunt, Bobo Mirza.

• March 1: 19 Assyrians Released, all from the village of Tel Goran

"Negotiations to release the captives have been ongoing between the Assyrian Church of the East and IS, who have demanded $100,000 for each hostage. According to observers, negotiations are ongoing for the release of the remaining hostages," said AINA.

Two Assyrian boys released by ISISA video posted on YouTube by the Syriac Military Council (NFS), an Assyrian militia that has been fighting IS in Syria, shows members of MFS entering the Assyrian village of Tel Shamiram after it has been liberated from IS. The video shows massive destruction in the village. ISIS scorched farm fields, destroyed buildings and homes and completely leveled the church of Mar Bishu. The damage caused by IS runs into millions of dollars and renders large parts of the village uninhabitable. In addition, ISIS has left booby traps in homes and farm fields in the villages it has retreated from.

To view the video, Click Here.

Note: Assyrians make up around 2% of Syria's population. They live primarily in Al-Hasakah Governorate, with a significant presence in the provincial capital and the cities of Qamishli, Malikiyah, Ras al-Ayn, and Qahtaniyah, as well as in Tell Tamer and nearby villages. As of November 2014, only 23 Assyrian and Armenian families remain in the city of Ar-Raqqah. Christian Bibles and holy books reportedly been burned by IS militants.

Assyrian is the common collective term in the English language for modern Aramaic-speaking peoples of the Near East, regardless of their regional self-identification. Old Aramaic was the language that was reportedly spoken by Jesus.