ISIS holds 150 Christian hostages, threaten to kill them
ISIS is holding many more Assyrian Christian hostage than previously thought — and it is reportedly planning to release a message Wednesday threatening to kill them.
Osama Edward, founder of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, told CNN that the extremist group is now believed to have 150 hostages, citing the latest information from the network’s team on the ground.
Initial estimates put the number seized at between 70 and 100 people, among them women, children and the elderly.
The video message will be directed to U.S. President Barack Obama and other members of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, Edward said from Stockholm, Sweden.
The Assyrians were kidnapped from villages near Tal Tamer in northeastern Syria early Tuesday.
Edward, who has family in the area attacked by ISIS, said the latest information from the ground indicated the hostages had been moved to an ISIS-controlled location.
The last message received from the hostages was a text from a kidnapped woman to her husband. She said the kidnappers were interrogating the hostages about whether the women were members of the local militias.
Edward said he feared the hostages would face the same fate as a dozen members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority slaughtered by ISIS in Libya last month.
“Maybe they are facing the same destiny. That’s why we call on all over the world, like the U.S, Europe, coalition forces — protect Assyrians, save Assyrians in Syria,” he said.
“They are facing death, people are unarmed, they are peaceful. And they need help, they are just left alone — no one’s protecting them.”
Edward said some 35 Assyrian villages and towns had now been taken over by ISIS, forcing thousands of families to flee.
Some 600 families have taken refuge in St. Mary’s Cathedral in al-Hasakah, Syria, he said Tuesday.
The Assyrians lack food, water, blankets and other necessities after years of being in the middle of a civil war.
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