Open Doors is calling for prayers for the estimated 70 to 100 Christians who were abducted by militants of the self-declared Islamic State (IS) in northeastern Syria on Monday.
The Associated Press and other media sources report that at least 70 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, were taken after their villages were overrun by IS terrorists.
Thousands of Assyrian Christians live in a string of villages on both sides of the Khabur River north of the city of Tal Tamr in Hassakeh province. It is not clear how many people were abducted by the militants; the figures mentioned by the different media sources vary from 70 up to 100.
Because of the advance of IS, thousands of inhabitants of the villages have fled to larger cities. The abducted Christians were mainly from the village of Tal Shamiram.
An Assyrian Christian woman from Tal Shamiram who now lives in Beirut said she has been desperately trying to find out what has become of her parents as well as her brother and his wife and children.
“Land lines have been cut and their mobiles are closed,” she told Associated Press. “Have they been slaughtered? Are they still alive? We’re searching for any news.”
She spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of endangering relatives believed to be held by the militants.
“My family visited me last month and returned to Syria. There were clashes but it was normal, nothing exceptional. I feel so helpless, I cannot do anything for them but pray,” she said by telephone, her voice breaking.
The Islamic State’s online radio station, al-Bayan, said in a report today that IS fighters had detained “tens of crusaders” and seized 10 villages around Tal Tamr after clashes with Kurdish militiamen. IS frequently refers to Christians as “crusaders.”
Earlier this month militants in Libya affiliated with Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.
Pray for the abducted Christians; that they will put their trust in the Lord and will be aware of His presence. Pray for the families of the abducted Christians and for the thousands who have fled their homes.
Syria is ranked No. 4 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Open Doors is working with partners and churches in Syria and Iraq to provide safe houses, food packages, refugee support, trauma counseling and Christian materials. To help provide funding, go to https://secure2.convio.net/ccod/site/Donation2?df_id=7280&7280.donation=form1&_ga=1.47585071.981393229.1378412015
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.