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ICC Note: Of the hundreds of Christians being held by ISIS in Syria, at least 19 were released following days of negotiations. The 17 men and 2 women from Tel Goran were freed and made it safely to the St. Mary’s Church in Hasaka. The situation remains unclear as efforts to free the hostages continue, as well as military operations against ISIS in the area.

03/01/2015 Syria (AINA) 9 Assyrians that were captured from the village of Tel Goran have been released by ISIS and have arrived safely at St. Mary’s Church in Hasaka, Syria. Negotiations for their release had been ongoing for three days and were mediated by local Arab tribal leaders.

Of the 19 that were released, 17 were men and 2 were women. But not all who were captured from Tel Goran were released. One of the hostages, an elderly woman, said that ISIS did not release her son and 2 other men who were guarding the village.

ISIS also refused to release a 6 year old girl named Mariana Mirza. According to reports from the released hostages, Mariana’s mother is pregnant and had to leave her daughter behind, but Bobo, the aunt of Mariana’s father, volunteered to stay behind with the girl even though she had been released. The father of Mariana, Abdo Mirza, was given a letter of safe passage by ISIS and instructed to bring money to pay for the release of his daughter.

The hostages looked tired and disheveled but were otherwise unharmed.

The number of Assyrians captured by ISIS is between 262 and 373. With the release of this group of 19, the number still being held by ISIS remains in the hundreds. According to Assyrian leaders, negotiations for the release of the remainder of the hostages are ongoing.

On February 24 ISIS attacked the Assyrian villages of Tel Goran, Tel Hurmiz, Tel Tamar, Tel Baloaa Tel Shamiran, Tel Riman, Tel Nasra, Tel Khareta, Tel Jazira, Tel Fweidat, Qaber Shamiyeh and Abu Tena.

Nine Assyrian fighters died defending their villages in the initial attacks and there are reports that ISIS has executed at least 12 Assyrian fighters who were captured, two of them women.

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