ISIS releases fourth batch of 25 Christians
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – On Friday, the Islamic State (ISIS) released the fourth batch of 25 Assyrian Christian hostages who were captured by the militant group in the northeastern Syrian Assyrian villages in February.
Sources from the Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights (AMHR) told K24 that on Friday, ISIS had released 25 Christian Assyrian hostages, mostly women and children.
"The release process was the result of the tireless efforts and a series of negotiations carried out by His Grace Mar Afram Athneil, Bishop of the Syrian Diocese of Assyrian Church of the East," AMHR sources added.
AMHR also added that ISIS had earlier released several groups of Christian hostages after negotiations with Assyrian figures: 37 hostages were released on November 7, 10 hostages on November 24, and 25 on December 9.
Johanna Towaya, an official in the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, told K24,"We support the Assyrian organizations and continue to work for the release of the remaining captives and for their reunification with their families."
A statement published on the official page of the Assyrian International News Agency said, "ISIS today released 25 Assyrians that it captured on February 23 when it attacked the 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur River in the Hasaka province. ISIS captured 253 in the initial attack and drove 3,000 Assyrians from their villages. Most have not returned."
"Two of the hostages are men, seven are women, and the rest are children between the ages of 3 and 11. The hostages are in good health. They arrived in Tel Tamer in the morning [on Friday, December 25]," the statement continued.
In February, militants of the Islamic State seized a number of Christian villages in the area. Subsequent to fierce clashes with Kurdish forces and allied Assyrian fighters, the terrorist group took more than 230 civilians as hostages before its withdrawal.