The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition watchdog group based mostly in England, stated the extremists had detained 230 civilians, together with “scores” of Christians, from Qaryatain, which was overrun final week.
According to a Syrian Christian who lives in Damascus but is originally from Al-Qaryatain, the town’s Christian population had dropped to only 300.
The town is thought to be home to around 40,000 people, including Sunni Muslims and Christians, as well as thousands of people who have fled fighting in other parts of Syria. The captured civilians include 60 Christians as well. Among those seized were 45 women and 19 children, including 11 families, some of whom were on a militants’ wanted list, the monitor revealed.
“The Islamic State has said that they have “arrested” more than 100 Assyrian/Syriacs from the town of Qaryatain in Homs, Syria”.
Father Mourad, who helped both Christians and Muslims, was preparing aid for an influx of refugees from Palmyra when he was abducted, and his whereabouts remain unknown.
Benjamin Decker, analyst at the Tel Aviv-based geopolitical risk consultancy The Levantine Group, says that the chances of the hostages being released is unlikely as ISIS’s operation was a successful attempt to destabilise the governance that was present in the town.
The hardline militant group has been gaining ground in the desert areas east and south of Homs after it took over the ancient Roman city of Palmyra last May.
They then fought intense battles with the Syrian army.
ISIL has destroyed many churches and Christian shrines in Syria, and demanded that Christians living under its rule pay a tax known as jizya. “Recognizing that sending U.S. troops to Syria can be harmful and dear, the administration has opted for bombing raids alone”, Emma Ashford, a visiting fellow on the Cato Institute, a assume tank in Washington, D.C., in an article final week. Earlier in 2015, Islamic State militants abducted dozens of Assyrian Christians when they attacked a number of villages across the province of Hassakeh located in the northeastern part of Syria.
The al-Qaeda splinter group also controls large territory in neighbouring Iraq.