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ICC Note: The future for more than 200 Assyrian Christians held captive by ISIS remains unclear, but at least 23 have been released. The abductions came after a raid on a cluster of Assyrian villages sent more than 3000 fleeing for refuge and between 250 and 350 were believed to have been taken captive by the Islamic extremist group.

03/06/2015 Syria (World Watch Monitor) Ten days after the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s harsh offensive emptied out a cluster of Assyrian Christian villages in northeast Syria, the extremists’ intentions toward their 220 or more Christian hostages remain unclear.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an Assyrian commander said IS extremists released 29 of their Christian hostages on March 1, citing a so-called “Sharia court decision” to set them free. But the first group of released captives to reach safety in Hassaka city on March 2 numbered only 19.

All in their 50s or older, the 19 former captives included 17 men and two women. All were civilians from Tel Goran village, except for one hostage believed to have been captured by IS a month earlier. Local Sunni Arab leaders reportedly helped negotiate for the release of the Tel Goran hostages.

“We did not believe that we would come out alive,” one of the released Christians later told the Assyrian International News Agency. “We were in constant fear.”

On March 3, four more hostages, including a six-year-old girl named Mariana and her great aunt, were released and welcomed to Hassaka by crowds of relieved Assyrians. Although the militants ordered the release of Mariana’s father in the first group of captives, they demanded he return to pay a ransom before they would set his daughter free. The other two released Assyrians were from a separate village, Tel Shamiran.…

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