Posted on 24th February 2015
Syrian Christians have requested prayer for a developing situation in north-east Syria in which large numbers of Assyrian Christians have been abducted by Daesh ('Islamic State') militants.
The abductions began at around 4.00am local time yesterday (23rd February) when Daesh launched an offensive on a 40km front along the River Khabour in Hassaka Governorate. There are around 35 predominantly Christian villages along the river in that area. The Daesh offensive follows clashes in which Kurdish and Syriac militias claim to have 'liberated' villages from Daesh control in neighbouring Raqqa Governorate.
According to one source, more than 600 families managed to flee from these villages. However, many Christians were abducted by Daesh militants. There is still some uncertainty about the exact numbers being held; one source refers to 56 Christians having been taken from the village of Tal-Shamiram and 'dozens' from other villages. Some refer to up to 100 having been abducted.
There are reports that churches in two villages were set on fire, and that a 17 year-old Christian was murdered. Examples of Muslim neighbours showing solidarity and assisting Christians have also emerged.
The reason for the abductions has not been stated. There is speculation that the abductees may be used in negotiations for the release of Daesh militants captured by Kurdish militias. However, there is grave concern over the fate of the Christians, especially in view of the recent murder of 21 Christians by Daesh-affiliated militants in Libya.
Syrian Christians ask us to pray that:
a. Those abducted will know the presence and protection of Jesus, and will be released soon
b. Those displaced from their homes will know the Father's care and provision, and will be able to return to their villages soon
c. Violence will cease, peace will be restored and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in Syria
d. Those responsible for the abductions will know the Spirit's conviction of sin, seek the Father's forgiveness and find new life in the Son
May be circulated to general mailing lists and outside organisations, and quoted from freely in reports citing "Middle East Concern" as the source of the information.