ISIS captures dozens of Christians in Syria

The genocidal forces of ISIS may have pulled back from Kobane for now, but they haven’t gone far — and the radical Islamist terror army is still looking to satiate their bloodlust. On the other side of Raqqa, ISIS forces captured almost one hundred Assyrian Christians from villages near the border with Turkey, in the vicinity of the Kurdish-held town of Hasakah:

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants have abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, two monitor groups that track violence in Syria said on Tuesday.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the abductions took place after dawn raids in villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority near the town of Tel Hmar, a mainly Assyrian town, in the western countryside of the city of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds.

NPR notes that Hasakeh is less than 150 miles from Mosul. It’s only slightly farther from Kobane — 167 miles — and much closer to the former border with Iraq. This is an area in which Christians go back to the founding of the church, as is Mosul and the entire Nineveh province. ISIS is attempting to wipe out Christianity from its cradle communities, as well as the cradle of civilization itself, and replace it with barbarism and tyranny.

The Kurds in the area are trying to attack the ISIS forces in the area, with coalition air support:

Syrian Kurdish militia launched two offensives against the militants in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped by U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga.

This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where it last year committed atrocities against the minority religious Yazidi community.

Many Assyrian Christians have emigrated in the nearly four-year-long conflict in which more than 200,000 have people have been killed. Before the arrival of Kurds and Arab nomadic tribes at the end of the 19th century, Christians formed the majority in Syria’s Jazeera area, which includes Hasaka.

Sunday’s offensive by Kurdish YPG militia reached within 5 km (3 miles) of Tel Hamis, an Islamic State controlled town south east of Qamishli, the Observatory said.

So far, no exact count has been made of how many hostages ISIS has:

Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) reportedly captured scores of Assyrian Christians from villages in northeast Syria, two activist groups said Tuesday, citing witnesses.

Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action that focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East, said ISIS fighters were holding between 70 and 100 captive, most of them from the Christian Assyrian village of Tal Shamiram.

Kino said his group based its information on conversations with villagers who fled the onslaught and their relatives.

What makes this especially excruciating is that these are the people who had the least means to flee when ISIS arose. They either refused to leave on principle, or more likely didn’t have the option to leave. There are many more in the same position in Iraq and Syria, trapped by an army of genocidal maniacs that the West, and especially the US, left to become resurgent and destroy an ancient civilization. None of this had to happen, and now that it has, the West has done little to stop it.

And ISIS has succeeded, the Guardian notes:

Isis militants have often singled out Christians and minorities for persecution. Thousands of Christians fled Iraq’s Mosul and Nineveh after Isis’s lightning advance last summer, fleeing their ancestral homelands amid reports of forced conversions. Many took refuge in Kurdish-held territories or in Lebanon. The Isis rampage through Iraq’s Nineveh plains cleared Chaldean Christians and other minorities from areas in which they had co-existed for more than 2,000 years

The jihadi group was especially brutal towards the ancient Yazidi minority in Iraq,attempting to starve thousands who were stranded on Mount Sinjar, north-west of Mosul. It also sold many hundreds of Yazidi women into slavery and forced others to marry.

Yes, it’s not just the Christians. CNN reports that the “capital” of Raqqa isn’t exactly a paradise for Muslims these days:

For women, al-Raqqawi says, the city is “like a big prison.” They are not allowed to leave the city if they are younger than 45 years old. And he says his activist group has documented more than 270 cases of girls forced to marry ISIS fighters.

“ISIS fighters are really sex-mad. … Some of them have two and three wives, and even with that they are trying to find slaves from Yazidi girls,” he says. …

“There is a big wall between the civilians and foreign fighters. It’s like two different lives inside the city of Raqqa,” al-Raqqawi says. “Yes it’s heaven for some of these foreign fighters, because they give them a lot of money. They give them the fancy houses. They give them the fancy cars.”

But for some, it’s not the paradise they imagined, al-Raqqawi says. Rumors swirl, he says, about foreign fighters being killed after trying to defect.

“ISIS takes their passports and if anyone tries defection from this, they will kill them immediately,” he says. “The problem, it’s not how to go inside the city of Raqqa. The problem is how to get out.”

Yeah, well, the US didn’t have much of a problem figuring that out. To our shame. Christians from around the world are stepping into the vacuum left by the West on behalf of the Assyrians, however:

Assyrian Christians in the Nineveh Plains, with the help of a group of Americans, are building a fighting machine to stand toe-to-toe with the Islamic State to preserve their homeland, their history and their heritage.

The Nineveh Plains Protection Unit, or NPU, is a battalion of 350 to 500 men trained by Sons of Liberty International, an American-led non-profit group aimed at “stepping in where governments in the international community have failed.”

SOLI founder Matthew VanDyke of New York, a filmmaker who became a freedom fighter in the Libyan civil war and spent six months as a prisoner of war under the Moammar Ghaddafi regime, said it was the brutal execution of his friends James Foley and Steven Sotloff at the hands of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, that made him focus on his role in stopping the group’s spread.

Last month, I interviewed Jeff Gardner on Relevant Radio about the formation of these militias. They are attempting to help the Assyrians, Yazidis, and Iraqis stand on their own against ISIS — but it won’t be easy. They’ll need much larger numbers than they have now, plus a whole lot of assistance from the US and the nearby Sunni nations.

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