Kurdish forces drive IS out of Assyrian Christian villages
Kurdish forces have driven the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group from more than a dozen Assyrian Christian villages that the jihadists had captured in northeastern Syria, a monitor said May 27.
“Following a 10-day offensive, Kurdish fighters took control early this week of 14 Assyrian villages that ISIL had controlled since February,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights.
Assyrian Christians, who are from one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, have been under increasing threat since ISIL seized control of large parts of Syria.
Thousands of Christians fled an assault by the jihadists in the northeastern province of Hasakeh in February after a spate of kidnappings by ISIL, which is still holding 210 Assyrians hostage.
Assyrians number about 30,000 among Syria’s 1.2 million Christians and mostly live in 35 villages in Hasakeh, all of which are now held by Kurdish or regime forces.
Osama Edward, head of the Sweden-based Assyrian Network for Human Rights, said that the Kurds’ recapture of the villages “was made possible by intense raids by the international coalition” led by the United States against ISIL.
He said that photos “show a lot of destruction of houses and churches”.
“Most people are afraid to return because they fear that ISIL booby-trapped their houses before fleeing,” he added.