Joy as Islamic State releases more Christian hostages in Syria

In wonderful news, Islamic State (IS) on Tuesday (24 November) released a group of ten more of the 253 Christians who were taken captive nine months ago when militants raided 35 predominantly Christian villages in Syria’s north-eastern Hassake province.

The freed hostages arrived safely in Tel Tamar village in north-eastern Syria and were met by family members. Five of the hostages released are women and the other five are men. Some reports indicate that in fact eleven hostages were released.

A total of 95 of the Christians captured in the Hassake raids in late February and early March have now been released, but IS continues to hold 155. On 7 November, a group of 37 hostages, aged 50 to 80, were freed and are being cared for by Barnabas Fund.

The hostages have endured horrific circumstances for many months. Some of the women released earlier reported how they had to take turns standing in order to let others lie down. Food was scarce and sanitation poor. The air was so fetid that they took turns standing at the window for a few moments at a time.

The male hostages are often separated from the women, and the older boys sent with the men. During the summer, temperatures rose to 45-50 degrees Celsius and in the winter months they can plummet to as low as 5 degrees below freezing, making the conditions unbearable.

Three of the male hostages were executed in a gruesome video released in early October as the jihadists threatened to do the same with the remaining hostages if ransom demands were not met.

Please pray for the safe release of each and every one of the remaining hostages. Pray also for the restoration of those who have been released after enduring many months of living in desperate fear.

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