The number of Assyrian Christians kidnapped by the Islamic State is now being estimated at 220. This is a dramatic increase from the 150 hostages reported on Monday. The hostages were taken from villages in the northeast province of Hassakeh in Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that ISIS captured more hostages from 11 villages near Tal Tamr. ISIS attacked the towns near the Khabur River on Monday. The Assyrian Democratic Organization reported that ISIS has raided about 33 villages.
Hassakeh’s population is made up of mostly Kurds but does have pockets of Arabs that are Christian Assyrians or Armenians. The province borders Turkey and Iraq and has quickly evolved into a battleground.
Both the United Nations Security Council and the White House condemned the ISIS attacks. The U.N. Security council also demanded the release of other hostages taken by Islamic State.
After the attack and kidnapping, ISIS burned a church and placed guards inside the burned remains. They also reportedly planned to release a video showing the hostages and threatened to kill them if American airstrikes in Syria continued. The U.S. then bombed the burned church, killing all Islamic State members that were inside.
These kidnappings came after ISIS released video showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. Religious minorities have been targeted and the recent actions are causing more waves of fear throughout these communities.
Along with killing religious minorities, Islamic State has destroyed churches and other buildings of worship.