In its ongoing rampage in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is now using its Christian hostages as human shields in military confrontations, according to a source within the Assyrian leadership.
ISIS militants have transported large groups of Christian captives to areas of intense fighting against Kurdish and Christian militias, as they continue to battle for strategic areas along the northeastern Syrian border, according to state-run media.
These Christians are now being used to defend the Islamic State against any confrontations in these territories.
Though negotiations are still underway between ISIS and the Assyrian political party in an effort to free the approximately 250 to 375 Christians abducted in repeated attacks on their villages in the northern Syrian province of al Hasakah, no deal has been struck yet, according to leaders.
Third-party Syrian Sunni Muslims from the local area are leading the talks with ISIS.
Over the last week, Assyrian officials announced the release of approximately 23 of the hostages.
The reason behind their release was not known, but according to some of the freed hostages, they were prohibited from going back to their homes in Syria and instead told to leave the country.
The Islamic State has long targeted Christian communities in the region, at first threatening them to convert to Islam or pay a Jizya, a minority tax, and later abducting these individuals and desecrating ancient landmarks and artifacts.
This week, ISIS militants destroyed another ancient Iraqi city, Khorsabad, leveling areas of the 2,700-year-old city known for its historic life-sized statues.
In late January, lisadaftari.com reported on a similar raid by the Islamic State on the same area,threatening to bomb churches if crosses were not removed.
The Islamic State has desecrated Churches and Christian graveyards in wholesale fashion in both Iraq and Syria.
The February 23 attack was a coordinated raid on 35 Assyrian villages in the Hasaka province, an area where the native Christian community thrived for generations.
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