ASIA/SYRIA - Archbishop Hindo: "jihadi attack warded off in Hassaké. Deadlock in negotiations for the release of Assyrian hostages"

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Hassaké (Agenzia Fides) - "We are going through a terrible moment. The jihadists of the Islamic State attacked Hassaké for two days. They were warded off by the army and Kurdish militias. But we are cut off, like an island surrounded by jihadists from all sides". This is how Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, head of Archieparchy in Hassaké-Nisibi describes the dramatic conditions lived by the population of the largest city in the northeastern Syrian province of Jazira. "Last night", said Mgr. Hindo "we heard that the army bombed the city of al-Shaddadi, stronghold of Daesh 60 kilometers from Hassaké. We are told that the muezzin from the mosques asked people to go and donate blood to save the lives of many wounded. And according to the information we have, it is almost certain that also 232 Assyrian Christians that jihadists took hostage when they attacked the villages in the valley of the river Khabour are still held in al-Shaddadi".
We have not had any news regarding the fate of 232 Assyrian hostages - among whom there are 51 children and 84 women - and initial contacts tempted to favor their release have so far been unsuccessful. From Australia, Metropolitan Assyrian Mar Mellis Zaia in a radio interview said that the jihadists of the Islamic State (Is) have asked 23 million dollars (100 thousand dollars per person) to free Christian prisoners. Due to the impossibility of collecting such a huge amount of money, negotiations apparently have stopped. In this respect, Archbishop Hindo agrees on the absurdity of the ransom request, but also advances doubts on the reliability of channels used so far in the negotiations. "Those of Daesh" says to Fides the Syrian Catholic Archbishop "usually ask what they know they can get. In this case, the goal of getting 100 thousand dollars for each hostage would be completely unattainable, and they know it.
Let us not forget that every day we deal with people who come to us and act as intermediaries, and ask for money. There are people who take advantage of the sufferings of Christians to make money. And this does not only happen here. Now we are thinking about a new attempt to reopen negotiations on a new basis". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 30/04/2015)