Kurds oust ISIS from Syrian Christian villages

Via The Daily Star:

Kurdish forces have driven ISIS from more than a dozen Assyrian Christian villages that the jihadis had captured in northeastern Syria, a monitor said Wednesday.

“Following a 10-day offensive, Kurdish fighters took control early this week of 14 Assyrian villages that ISIS had controlled since February,” said Rami Abdel-Rahman, director of the pro-oppositionSyrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Assyrian Christians, who are from one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, have been under increasing threat since ISIS seized control of large parts of Syria.

Thousands of Christians fled an assault by the jihadis in the northeastern province of Hassakeh in February after a spate of kidnappings by ISIS, which is still holding 210 Assyrians hostage.

Assyrians number about 30,000 among Syria’s 1.2 million Christians and mostly live in 35 villages in Hassakeh, all of which are now held by Kurdish or regime forces.

Osama Edward, head of the Sweden-based Assyrian Network for Human Rights, said that the Kurds’ recapture of the villages “was made possible by intense raids by the international coalition” led by the United States against ISIS.

He said that photos “show a lot of destruction of houses and churches.”