WASHINGTON / BEIRUT: Islamic State released 19 Assyrian Christian captives in Syria on Sunday after processing them through a sharia court, a monitoring group which tracks the conflict said.
More than 200 Assyrians remain in IS, said the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, captives from the group’s advance last month that overran more than a dozen villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority near Hasaka, a northeastern city mainly held by the Kurds. However, the group has not claimed any of the abductions.
The Observatory tracks the conflict using a network of sources on all sides of the civil war which spiralled as security forces used violence to suppress protests against President Bashar al Assad’s rule in 2011.
It said 17 men and two women were released. Islamic State has killed members of religious minorities and Sunni Muslims who do not swear allegiance to its self-declared “caliphate”. The group last month released a video showing its members beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.
US-led coalition launches air strikes on IS targets in Iraq, Syria
A US-led coalition launched seven air strikes in Iraq and two in Syria since early Saturday against Islamic State militants, the Combined Joint Task Force said on Sunday.
The military statement said two air strikes involving US drones in Syria near Al Hasakah struck an Islamic State tactical unit and destroyed two vehicles.
In Iraq, the US-led coalition used warplanes and drones to strike near Al Asad, Al Qaim, Kirkuk and Mosul, destroying Islamic State tactical units, boats, a storage facility, buildings and other targets, according to the statement.
The strikes all took place between 8am on Saturday and 8am on Sunday local time, the statement said.