ISIS frees Syrian Christians held since 2015 for ransom

BEIRUT -- The Islamic State group on Monday released the last of some 230 Assyrian Christians kidnapped a year ago in Syria after the receiving millions of dollars in ransom, Christian officials said.

See Full Article

Younan Talia, of the Assyrian Democratic Organization, told The Associated Press that about 40 remaining Christian captives were released early Monday and are on their way to the northeastern town of Tal Tamr.

Younan said the release came after mediation led by a top Assyrian priest in northern Syria.

The extremists captured the Assyrians, members of an ancient Christian sect, last February after overrunning several communities on the southern bank of the Khabur River in northeastern Hassakeh province.

Kidnapping for ransom is a main source of income for the extremists. In November, IS said it killed a Norwegian and a Chinese captive after demanding ransom for their release two months earlier.

Talia said IS demanded a ransom of $18 million for the Assyrian Christians. He said the figure was later lowered following negotiations. He said he did not know the final amount.

Osama Edward, director of the Stockholm-based Assyrian Human Rights Network, said 42 Christians, mostly young women and children, were released. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said 42 were released, including at least 17 women.

A Syrian Christian figure said the worldwide Assyrian community launched a campaign for the captives' release shortly after they were abducted. He said a bank account was opened in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil and donations began to flow in from around the world.

"We paid large amounts of money, millions of dollars, but not $18 million," said the man, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the sensitive mediation. "We paid less than half the amount."

The official added that the fate of five Assyrians who went missing during the abductions was still unknown.

IS attacked a cluster of villages along the Khabur River, sending thousands of people fleeing to safer areas and capturing the Assyrians over a period of three days. Over the next two days, the extremists picked up dozens more from 11 communities near Tal Tamr.

The Hassakeh province, which borders Turkey and Iraq, has become the latest battleground in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. It is predominantly Kurdish but also has Arabs, Assyrians and Armenians.

On Friday, the predominantly Kurdish Syria Democratic Forces captured the IS stronghold of Shaddadeh in Hassakeh, where some of the kidnapped were once believed to have been held.

Many Syrian Christians, who make up about 10 per cent of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million, left for Europe over the past 20 years, with the flight gathering speed since the country's conflict began in March 2011.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • U.S. Supreme Court will allow partial travel ban pending appeal

    World News CBC News
    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to U.S. President Donald Trump by narrowing the scope of lower court rulings that blocked his travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries and agreeing to hear his appeals in the cases. Source
  • Video: 'Friendly' soccer exhibition turns violent as fans of Mexican teams brawl

    World News Toronto Sun
    SANTA ANA, Calif. — A friendly game in California between former players of two professional Mexican soccer clubs turned violent during halftime when dozens of fans rushed the field and brawled. The Orange County Register reports the “game of legends” between former Club America and Pumas players Sunday was intended to benefit Santa Ana-based United Soccer Talents Foundation, which supports soccer players. Source
  • Jewish group cancels Netanyahu meeting in protest

    World News Toronto Sun
    JERUSALEM — A high-profile group of Jewish leaders cancelled a gala event with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to protest his government’s decision to scrap plans for a mixed-gender prayer area at Jerusalem’s Western Wall. The stunning move reflects an unprecedented gulf that has erupted between Israel and the Jewish diaspora over how Judaism can be practiced in Israel. Source
  • Hacker group Anonymous believes NASA is close to discovering alien life

    World News Toronto Sun
    Hacker group Anonymous released a video last week claiming NASA is plotting a groundbreaking announcement that alien life has been discovered. The video was posted to “Anonymous Global”, a YouTube channel believed to be associated with the renowned hacker collective. Source
  • 'We saw bodies everywhere'; Oil tanker explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 157 people [Photos] [Video

    World News Toronto Sun
    BAHAWALPUR, Pakistan — An overturned oil tanker burst into flames in Pakistan on Sunday, killing 153 people who had rushed to the scene of the highway accident to gather leaking fuel, a hospital official said as the death toll continued to rise. Source
  • U.S. Supreme Court to hear case on refusing service to gays on religious grounds

    World News CBC News
    The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado. The justices said Monday they will consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Source
  • Philando Castile's family reaches $3M US settlement in shooting by police

    World News CBC News
    The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million US settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer. Source
  • Delaware professor who bashed North Korea prisoner Otto Warmbier axed from teaching position

    World News Toronto Sun
    WILMINGTON, Del. — The University of Delaware won’t rehire a professor who said a college student who died after being held by North Korea “got exactly what he deserved.” In a statement Sunday, the university said that the adjunct faculty member, Katherine Dettwyler, will not be rehired. Source
  • Ontario proposes to cap resale ticket price at 50% above face value in scalping crackdown

    Canada News CBC News
    The Ontario government plans to introduce new rules this fall that would crack down on scalping tickets for sports, concert and other events at inflated prices. The new legislation would target resellers who used technological and other means to buy the majority of tickets, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi told reporters outside Toronto's Rogers Centre on Monday morning. Source
  • Trump attacks Obama's handling of Russian meddling

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump says investigators have "zero 'tapes"' showing that his associates colluded with Moscow to try to influence the 2016 election. On Twitter Monday, Trump also said that President Barack Obama did "NOTHING about Russia after being notified by the CIA of meddling" because "he expected Clinton would win. Source