TEL SHAMIRAM, Syria (Christian Examiner) – Concerns are escalating about the fate of the 150 Assyrian Christians seized by Islamic State jihadists from their villages early Monday, with one activist expressing fears the captured men, women and children will be killed like the 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded earlier this month, CNN is reporting.
Osama Edward, founder of the Assyrian Human Rights Network, told CNN from Stockholm, Sweden, that he has word from his team on the ground in Syria that the hostages had been moved to Raqqa, an ISIS-controlled city referred to as the terrorists' capital, and "are facing death."
He said the "people are unarmed" and peaceful, and that "they need help, they are just left alone -- no one's protecting them," adding that a text message from one of the hostages stated ISIS was interrogating them about "whether the women were members of local militias."
But no official word has been given about the fate of the captive men, women and children, and that lack of knowledge is torture to those left behind. About 3,000 managed to flee fast enough to find refuge in nearby villages.
"Their mobiles are closed," one woman with missing relatives told Associated Press. "Have they been slaughtered? Are they still alive? We're searching for any news. ... I feel so helpless. I cannot do anything for them but pray."
An ISIS video of demands was expected Wednesday, but was not released. Observers are hoping ISIS will ask for an exchange of the captives for ISIS members held by coalition partners.
ISIS' online radio station, al-Bayan, on Tuesday reported its forces had detained myriad "crusaders" – a reference to the captured Christian men, women and children – and seized 10 villages around Tal Tamr after clashes with Kurdish militiamen, Fox News announced. Syria's official SANA news agency put the number of overrun villages at seven.
This, however, follows weekend battles about 55 miles east, during which 20 villages were reclaimed from the Islamic terrorists. That fighting continued through Tuesday; another 10 villages were reclaimed by the Kurdish People's Protection Units.
Vatican Radio on Wednesday accused Turkey's President Recep Erdogan of contributing to the deaths of Syrian Christians, who were met with blocked borders to Turkey while attempting to flee massacres by the terrorists in Syria.
"In the north, Turkey allows through lorries, Daesh [Isis] fighters, oil stolen from Syria, wheat and cotton," said Jacques Behnan Hindo, a Syrian archbishop. "All these can cross the border but nobody [from the Christian community] can pass over."
The Obama administration plans call for up to 10,000 Syrian refugees, most of them Sunni Muslims – like ISIS – to be resettled in cities throughout the United States in 2015, "with that figure expected to surge to near 75,000 over the next five years," according to World Net Daily. "No such plans exist for their targeted Christian population," the article continues.
Greek Catholic sources say more than 300,000 Syrian Christians are among the refugees driven from their homes in a civil war now set to enter its fifth year.
"As far as global needs go, the Middle East has plenty of safe refuges for Sunni and Shite Muslims; it has none for Christians and Yazidis," wrote Daniel Greenfield, who focuses on radical Islam for the New York-based Freedom Center. "It only makes sense that the West should fill the need for safe refuges that don't exist in the Muslim world for non-Muslims, while the Muslim world takes in its own refugees."