Date: February 23, 2016
By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (BosNewsLife)-- Assyrian Christians in Syria are celebrating the release of the remaining 43 Christians taken hostage by the Islamic State group from villages along the Khabour River in Hassaka Governorate in February 2015, but warn that several other believers remain detained. Monday's release came one day short of the anniversary of their abduction, said Middle East Concern (MEC), an advocacy group closely monitoring the situation.
"These 43 Christians were among more than 230 abducted when 'Daesh' (the other name used for Islamic State) raided around 35 predominantly Assyrian villages," MEC told BosNewsLife.
"All of those abducted in those raids are now accounted for. Almost all have been released, many in recent months following negotiations by church representatives."
A video released by Islamic State in early October 2015 showed the execution of three Assyrian Christians, two of whom had been from this group, Christians confirmed.
In a statement, the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation thanked all "who have stood with the Assyrians of Syria" during the "arduous 12 months" of this ordeal, BosNewsLife learned.
However "while rejoicing the release of these hostages, they note the ongoing impact of the losses suffered by the Assyrian communities of Syria, including the destruction of livelihoods," MEC said, adding that several other Christians remain detained elsewhere in the war torn nation.
They urged continued prayer that “all those who were abducted and have been released will know the Lord's comfort, healing and restoration, those displaced will know the Lord's care and provision, and be able to return to their homes soon.”
MEC said that Syrian beliebers also asked prayer for “Christians from al-Qaryatain and other parts of Syria who remain abducted.
That they will know the Lord's comfort and sustaining, and will be released soon, violence will cease, peace will be restored
and the clear rule of law will be applied equally for all in Syria."
Syrian Christians also were reportedly also praying that "those responsible for the murder and abduction of innocent civilians will know the Spirit's conviction of sin, seek the Father's forgiveness and find new life in the Son.”
Thousands of Christians have fled Syria, though others stay behind with churches still trying to operate in an area where years of war has claimed the lives of at least 250,000 people.