ISIS Kidnaps 70 Christians
Syria fighters overrun several Assyrian villages
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2015 12:09 AM CST
Updated Feb 24, 2015 7:23 AM CST
ISIS fighters are seen during a battle in Kobani late last year.   (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Office, File)

(Newser) – ISIS has abducted at least 70 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, after overrunning a string of villages in northeastern Syria, according to two activist groups. The extremist fighters swept through the villages nestled along the banks of Khabur River near the town of Tal Tamr in Hassakeh province around dawn yesterday. The area is predominantly inhabited by Assyrians, an indigenous Christian people who trace their roots back to the ancient Mesopotamians.

In the assault, the militants took between 70 and 100 Assyrians captive, says Nuri Kino, the head of the activist group A Demand For Action, which focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East. He said some 3,000 people managed to flee the onslaught and have sought refuge in the cities of Hassakeh and Qamishli. Kino says his organization based its information on conversations with villagers who fled the onslaught and their relatives. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the abductions, but put the number of Assyrians held by the Islamic State group at 90. The Observatory relies on a network of activists inside Syria. It was not immediately clear what the Islamic State group planned to do with the Assyrians.