16 Assyrian Christian hostages released from ISIS captivity; ACERO confirms

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Freed Assyrian Hostages
Photos released by ACERO on Facebook show the freed hostages with the Bishop of Syria, His Grace Mar Afram Athneil.

According to Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation (ACERO) has confirmed on their Facebook page that sixteen more Christian hostages have been released from ISIS captivity after 25 were released on Christmas last year.

The hostages, mostly children, were among more than 200 people abducted from villages along the Khabour River in northern Syria on February 23 last year. ISIS militants undertook raids on a number of Assyrian villages near Tel Hmar, burning churches and forcing hundreds of families to flee. The captives were freed in al-Hasakah in Syria.

ISIS has now released more than 160 captives in total, and A Demand for Action (ADFA), a campaign group for minorities in the Middle East said, that the Church is working “day and night to make sure all are returned to their families safely”.

ADFA spokeswoman Diana Yacqo said, “We don’t know what the future holds for us in the Middle East. Our history and churches have been destroyed, our people are fleeing and kidnapped. It’s literally a nightmare situation and yet still nobody wants to help.”

“The United Nations has neglected the situation, our pleas to our respective governments have gone unnoticed, we just seem to be the forgotten people of those lands” Yacqo said.
ISIS continues to raid more ancient Assyrian cities dating back 2,000 years, and Assyrian Christians are doing everything they can to win their families’ freedom.

An ancient branch of Christianity, the Assyrian Church of the East has roots dating back to the 1st century AD. Assyrian Christians speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus, and have origins in ancient Mesopotamia – a territory which spreads across northern Iraq, north-east Syria and south-eastern Turkey.