TAL SHAMIRAM, Syria — At least 150 people have been kidnapped by the barbaric Islamic group ISIS in what is being reported as a predominantly Christian area of Syria.
“We have verified at least 150 people who have been abducted from sources on the ground,” Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council of Syria, told Reuters.
Earlier reports had numbered those kidnapped as being below 100. Women and children are stated to be among those seized.
Members of ISIS launched the door-to-door abduction in the early hours on Monday, taking residents captive throughout villages along the south bank of the Khabur River. Another 3,000 in the north of the river fled for their lives, taking refuge in Hassakeh and Qamishli.
Osama Edward of the Assyrian Human Rights Network told the BBC that he believes some of his wife’s relatives were among those captured.
“My wife tried to call her cousin’s house and there was somebody who picked up the phone and said, ‘This is not Akram’s house. This is the Islamic State’s house,'” he said.
A woman in Lebanon who has family in the area also told reporters on Tuesday that she was concerned about their plight as they couldn’t be reached.
“Have they been slaughtered? Are they still alive? We’re searching for any news,” she said. “I feel so helpless. I cannot do anything for them but pray.”
al-Bayan, an ISIS-run radio station, reported that it has detained a number of “crusaders” and taken over approximately 10 villages near Tal Tamr.
The incident occurs just days after video was released of ISIS beheading 21 Egyptian men that it likewise called “crusaders.”
“All crusaders: safety for you will be only wishes, especially if you are fighting us all together,” a man stated with a North American English accent. “The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama Bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.”
In the five-minute video, 21 men are shown on their knees in orange jumpsuits having their heads cut off by black-clad Islamists with a caption that reads: “The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.”
CNN’s Michael Holmes told the network that the actions of the Islamist terror group send a message to Christians that “We are coming to get you.” He noted that ISIS has “global ambitions” as it seeks to expand its Islamic caliphate.
“al-Baghdadi himself has said, ‘If we’re lucky, we’ll conquer Rome, and then move on to Al-Andalus, which is Spain,'” Holmes explained. “So, they have a presence in Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq [and] Europe … and you are going to see ISIS-inspired attacks elsewhere.”