Just before dawn on Monday, February 23, ISIS fighters entered the Assyrian Christian villages outside of Tal Tamr, in Syria’s Hasakah region. More than 90 men, women and children were taken from the villages, four churches have been destroyed and over 3,000 Christians have fled their homes following the assault on their villages along the Khabur River.
One woman who fled her village with her four young children said: “We fell asleep in total quiet, nothing was going on … We woke up to the sound of clashing; we didn’t know what it was, until we saw that everyone in the camp was fleeing because ISIS had entered the village.”
Most of the hostages taken by ISIS were women, the elderly and children, as most of the young men are away fighting with the militias that are trying to defend these areas from ISIS.
Until 2011, this cluster of 35 Assyrian villages along the Khabur River had been home to between 40,000-45,000 Christians, but recent estimates put that number closer to 3,000, almost all of whom have now fled their villages or been taken hostage.
As a part of the raids, ISIS destoyed a number of churches, including the church in Tel Hurmiz, one of the oldest churches in Syria. The destruction of these churches comes just a few weeks after ISIS fighters had forced the residents in another Syrian village to remove the cross from the church and to pay the jizya tax, or face death.
Increasingly, ISIS is proving that it is seeking to eradicate Christians and the presence of the cross from any of the lands that they control.
- Pray for the women, children and elderly who have been taken hostage by ISIS in Syria and other places. Pray for their protection and for safe and speedy release.
- Pray for Christians in Syria, a country split by civil war and now under threat from ISIS. Pray that they will hold fast to their faith and hope in God, even in increasingly desperate situations.
- Pray for peace in Syria, for reconciliation and healing for the people of that nation.
- Pray that the presence of the Cross and Christianity will not only survive the onslaught from ISIS< but indeed grow and flourish as a light in the darkness.
Matthew 16 vs 18: “And I tell you … on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
source: https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org; www.persecution.org