ASIA/SYRIA - Anguish for Christians held hostage by jihadists; Syrian Catholic Archbishop Hindo: avoid unnecessary alarm

Friday, 27 February 2015

Hassaké (Agenzia Fides) - The number of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians of the villages on the river Khabur taken hostage and deported by the jihadists in their strongholds increases to more than three hundred. "If the first reports spoke of 90 seized - refers to Agenzia Fides Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo - "now we can say that the hostages in the hands of the jihadists are around 350".
According to what Samir Taji, a member of the Al-Nusra Front (Syrian jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, ed) said to the Kurdish website ARA News, the militia of the Islamic State first held Assyrian prisoners - including women and children - in a detention center at Mount Abdulaziz, then dispersed them in areas and centers under their control, including their stronghold of Raqqa. Among the prisoners there are forty Kurdish soldiers and Assyrian militiamen of the Brigade of self-protection Sutoro.
Meanwhile, at the moment, the flow of displaced people to the cities of Hassaké and Qamishli and other urban centers has ended. Yesterday even fifty Arab Bedouins, fleeing from the offensive area of the jihadists, arrived in Hassaké.
In this uncertain context, Archbishop Hindo says it is important to avoid the spread of uncontrolled and unverifiable rumors. "The Christians who have fled from the villages of Khabur - the Syrian Catholic Archbishop explains to Fides - tell us that during the assault of the jihadists, four Assyrian militants, members of the self-defense militia known as the Assyrian Sutoro were killed. Another Christian must be added to the list, who was burned to death because his shop was set on fire by jihadists. Perhaps he was also armed and had tried to oppose those of the Islamic State. At the moment, there are is no confirmed news of more deaths".
Mgr. Hindo also renewed his criticism regarding the management of yet another humanitarian emergency on behalf of aid organizations: "Only yesterday - reports the Archbishop - Red Crescent distributed 125 food parcels, when thousands are available here in Hassaké. So far, the refugees had received aid only from the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 27/02/2015)