24 February 2015

Activists warn of end of Christian presence in Middle East as Isis seizes 90 Assyrians

The reported kidnappings are the latest blow to the ancient Christian presence in the region, heightening insecurity after a video was released by militants claiming allegiance to Isis that appeared to show the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts in Libya.

“This is another episode in the targeting to the Christians of the east,” Habib Afram, president of the Syriac League in Lebanon, which represents the Assyrian minority, told the Guardian. “We are witnessing the end of the Christian presence in the east.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said 90 Assyrian Christians were kidnapped by Isis near Tal Tamr. In addition to the captives, four Christians were killed trying to defend the villages.

The attack targeted some 35 mostly Assyrian settlements near the Khabur river, a tributary of the Euphrates, after there had been heavy fighting in the area between Isis and the YPG, the Kurdish militia backed by the US-led coalition that beat back an advance on the border town of Kobani last month. [The Guardian] Read more