But it’s going to take them a little time to build enough immolation cages. ISIS is holding many more Assyrian Christians hostages than previously thought — and is planning to release a video threatening to kill them.
CNN The abductions of the Christians took place Mondayafter ISIS seized two Assyrian communities from Kurdish forces in the northeast province of Hassakeh. 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.
The video message will be directed to Barack Obama and other members of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, Edward said from Stockholm, Sweden. Edward, who has family in the area attacked by the terror group, said the latest information from the ground indicated the hostages had been moved to an ISIS-controlled location.
The activist organization Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently also said on Twitter that ISIS has moved a number of Assyrian captives to Raqqa, which has been called the Islamist extremist group’s de facto capital.
The last message received from the hostages was a text from a kidnapped woman to her husband, Edward said. She said the kidnappers were interrogating the hostages about whether the women were members of local militias.
Edward said he feared the hostages would face the same fate as Assyrians targeted in Iraq and the more than 20 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 of these families have taken refuge in St. Mary’s Cathedral in al-Hasakah, Syria. After years caught up in the middle of a civil war, many of these Assyrians lack food, water, blankets and other basics.
The Assyrians are a proud group that’s overcome a lot in their history. They can trace their roots back some 4,000 years to the time of Mesopotamia, considered one of the cradles of civilization and birthplace of writing and literature. While their first religion was Ashurism, Assyrians have been predominantly Christian since the third century.
“How can Syria be Syria without the Assyrians?” Edward said. “We gave the country our name.”
ISIS has proven, time and again, its willingness to ruthlessly go after minority groups who don’t subscribe to Islam.