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

  • Trump signals Mexico wall funding may wait several months for more pressing concerns

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump indicated an openness on Monday to delaying his push to secure funds for his promised border wall with Mexico, potentially eliminating a sticking point as lawmakers worked to avoid a looming shutdown of the federal government. Source
  • Converting coal would help China's smog at climate's expense

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- China's conversion of coal into natural gas could prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths each year. But there's a catch: As the country shifts its use of vast coal reserves to send less smog-inducing chemicals into the air, the move threatens to undermine efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, researchers said Tuesday. Source
  • Hollywood's writers vote overwhelmingly to authorize strike next week

    World News CBC News
    More than 96% of the voting members of the Writers Guild of America have authorized a strike against production companies. The WGA released the results Monday, a day ahead of the resumption of contract negotiations on a master contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Source
  • Ivanka Trump heads to Berlin for women's conference

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Ivanka Trump's advocacy for women and girls will take her to a conference in Berlin Tuesday, an attention-getting first international outing aimed at building support for investment in women's economic empowerment programs. Back home, the first daughter's plan to push for policies that benefit working mothers is getting less of the spotlight. Source
  • Aviation officer says man dragged off United flight was 'flailing and fighting'

    World News Toronto Sun
    CHICAGO — The physician who was dragged off a United Airlines flight in Chicago this month was verbally and physically abusive, and flailing his arms before he lost his balance and struck his mouth on an armrest, according to the aviation officer who pulled the man out of his seat. Source
  • North Korea quiet amid talk of missile follow-up

    World News CTV News
    PYONGYANG, Korea, Democratic People's Republic Of - A U.S. guided-missile submarine arrived in South Korea on Tuesday and envoys from the U.S., Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo, as North Korea prepared to mark the anniversary of the founding of its military. Source
  • Bill O’Reilly speaks out about Fox firing, says 'the truth will come out'

    World News Toronto Sun
    LOS ANGELES — Five days after being fired from his top-rated Fox News Channel perch, Bill O’Reilly used a podcast to express his dismay and vowed that “the truth will come out.” “I am sad that I’m not on television anymore,” he said in an episode Monday of his personal website’s “No Spin News” podcast, available only to subscribers after this week’s free window. Source
  • U.S. judge lifts stay that blocked second Arkansas execution

    World News Toronto Sun
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Two condemned Arkansas killers who admit they’re guilty but fear their poor health could lead to extreme pain during lethal injections set for Monday might become the first inmates put to death in a double execution in the U.S. Source
  • Trudeau says his dad got his brother help in dealing with pot charge

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his younger brother, Michel, was able to avoid a criminal record after he was caught with marijuana because of his father’s connections. Trudeau revealed the little-known fact about his brother, who died in a B.C. Source
  • New Orleans takes down white supremacist monument

    World News CTV News
    NEW ORLEANS -- A monument to a deadly white-supremacist uprising in 1874 was removed under cover of darkness by workers in masks and bulletproof vests Monday as New Orleans joined the movement to take down symbols of the Confederacy and the Jim Crow South. Source