Nuncio to Damascus: IS releases 52 abducted Christian families without a ransom payment

Damascus (AsiaNews) – The Christians abducted by the Islamic State (IS) group on 23 February from villages in north-eastern Syria, near the border with Turkey, “were released in mid-week, 5 and 6 March, without payment of any ransom,” said Mgr Mario Zenari.

“The 52 families who were held for days by the jihadists” are now safe, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, told AsiaNews. However, “The militia still hold 16 people. Half of them are Christians; the other half is made up of Kurds.”

Meanwhile, the situation in Syria continues to be appalling. The most critical situation is in Damascus and Aleppo where air strikes, shelling and gun battles continued throughout the day yesterday.

The Islamic State group abducted Christian families during its offensive against Assyrian villages in the Al Hasakah Governorate, in north-eastern Syria. That involved about 250 people, but the figure could not be verified. Initial claims that they were executed were later denied.

The area is strategic because it links caliphate-controlled regions in Syria with those in Iraq, and can be used as corridor to bring in weapons, supplies and fighters from Turkey.