ISIS Said to Have Begun Executing Captured Syrian Christians

By John Newton

ACN photo: seeking shelter in Hassake; courtesy Assyrian Church, Beirut

ACN photo: seeking shelter in Hassake; courtesy Assyrian Church, Beirut

In a fast-developing, highly fluid story, there are now reports that ISIS has started killing hostages seized after it captures Assyrian Christian villages in Syria’s Hassake governorate—reportedly 15 kidnapped Christians may already be dead.

In a message sent to Aid to the Church in Need Feb. 26, 2015, Iraq-based Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana passed on news of the executions from a contact in Hassake city, adding that the number of Assyrian Christians being held by ISIS exceeds 350.

Archimandrite Youkhana, who supports persecuted Christians in the Middle East, said: “Around 15 young Assyrians are martyred. Many of them were fighting to defend and protect the villages and families.” From the village of Tel Hormizd 14 people were taken—12 men and two women—who were fighting to defend their homes.

Reports indicate that of the Tel Hormizd fighters one woman has been beheaded and two men have been shot. There is no information about who the other executed captives might be. But they may be some of the 13 Christians from various other villages, who were seized while offering resistance to their attackers.

In addition to these fighters, 81 people were seized from Tel Jazira, 21 from Tel Gouran, five from Tel Feytha and three from Qabir Shamiya. All of the above are being held in the Arab Sunni village of Um Al-Masamier. Also, 51 families from the village of Tel Shamiram have been taken, with an average of five persons per family.

Archimandrite Youkhana said: “It is believed there are casualties and many Assyrians have been killed in the village.” He added that there was no news about where the families were being held: “Most probably they have been captured and transported to Mount Abdul Aziz, a nearby region controlled by ISIS.”

There  unconfirmed report that the mosque in the Arab Sunni village of Bab Alfaraj had called on people to attend “a mass killing of infidels” at Mount Abdul Aziz today, Feb. 27, 2015.

There are no families left in the 35 Assyrian Christian villages, all remaining villagers have now fled to Hassake or Qamishli. The number of registered displaced families stands at 800 families in Hassake and 175 in Qamishli. That number may reach 1,200 families.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org