We rejoice that another 25 Christian hostages held by Islamic State in Syria have been released today (9 December). The group appears to comprise 23 men of various ages and two young boys. All 25 have now safely arrived in Tel Tamar village, in north-eastern Syria.
These hostages are among a group of 253 believers who were captured in late February when militants raided the mainly Assyrian villages along the Khabur river in north-eastern Syria and have endured nine months at the hands of brutal jihadists. IS has been releasing some of the hostages, mainly the elderly, in small groups. A total of 120 of the group have now been released.
In a shocking video released in early October, militants executed three male hostages and threatened to do the same with the remaining hostages if their ransom demands were not met. In total, 130 continue to be held.
All over Syria, at least 362 Christians are known to be held currently as formal hostages by IS. They are held in squalid and tightly cramped conditions, and are often used as human shields.
Freed hostages have described how the men and older boys are often separated from the women and children. Some have been held in such crowded conditions that they had to take it in turns to lie down. The air is so filthy that they take turns to stand by the window for a few gasps of fresh air.
Barnabas Fund has committed to look after each of the 25 hostages released today, providing for their basic needs and so demonstrating the love of their praying brothers and sisters around the world.
Please pray that God will shield the remaining hostages from all harm and illness, and that each and every one of them will soon be released to safety.
Ask the Lord to restore each of the freed hostages. Pray that their needs will be met and that their shattered souls will experience the peace of their loving heavenly Father.