Kurds oust ISIS from Christian villages in Syria

Kurds stand in line and flash victory signs during a solidarity rally just across the border to the embattled Syrian city of Kobani in Turkey. (File photo: AP)

Kurdish forces have driven ISIS from more than a dozen Assyrian Christian villages that the jihadists had captured in northeastern Syria, a monitor said Wednesday.

“Following a 10-day offensive, Kurdish fighters took control early this week of 14 Assyrian villages that IS had controlled since February,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Assyrian Christians, who are from one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, have been under increasing threat since ISIS seized control of large parts of Syria.

Thousands of Christians fled an assault by the jihadists in the northeastern province of Hasakeh in February after a spate of kidnappings by ISIS, which is still holding 210 Assyrians hostage.

Assyrians number about 30,000 among Syria’s 1.2 million Christians and mostly live in 35 villages in Hasakeh, all of which are now held by Kurdish or regime forces.

Osama Edward, head of the Sweden-based Assyrian Network for Human Rights, said the recapture of the villages by the Kurds “was made possible by intense raids by the international coalition” led by the United States against ISIS.

He said that photos “show a lot of destruction of houses and churches”.

“Most people are afraid to return because they fear that ISIS booby-trapped their houses before fleeing,” he added.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:47 - GMT 06:47
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