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ISIS Overruns Syrian City of Hassakeh, Forcing 4,000 Christian Families to Flee

( [email protected] ) Jul 02, 2015 08:22 PM EDT
The terror group known as ISIS has overrun the city of Hassakeh in northeastern Syria, forcing 4,000 Christian families to flee the area. Most of the Christians have fled to the nearby city of Qamishli for refuge.
Syrian Kurds from Kobani wait behind the border fences to cross into Turkey as they are pictured from the Turkish border town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, Turkey, June 25, 2015. Islamic State fighters have launched simultaneous attacks against Syrian government and Kurdish militia forces, moving back onto the offensive after losing ground in recent days to Kurdish-led forces near the capital of their "caliphate." Islamic State sought to retake the initiative with incursions into the Kurdish-held town of Kobani at the Turkish border and government-held areas of Hasaka city in the northeast. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

The terror group known as ISIS has overrun the city of Hassakeh in northeastern Syria, forcing 4,000 Christian families to flee the area. Most of the Christians have fled to the nearby city of Qamishli for refuge.

According to Michael Lucchese of Breitbart, one of the Christians fleeing the town included Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, the head of the Syrian Catholic Church in Hassakeh. He lamented that not enough was being done to protect Christians and other religious minorities in the region.

"The Kurdish militias in the region have responded to the raids of Daesh [ISIS's Arabic name] only when they attacked the Kurdish districts," Hindo said.

Hindo added that many within the local population sympathized with ISIS.

"One must also point out that a part of the local population is on the militants' side: when these arrived in the south-eastern district of al-Nachwa, women and children were asked to leave the city. But young boys and adults remained, and have sided with Daesh," Hindo said.

Lucchese reported that none of the Christians who fled the city were seriously injured. Hindo elaborated on the humanitarian emergency to Agenzia Fides.

"Caritas Syria has sent its aid, but the needs increase day by day," the Archbishop said. "Many sleep in the open, and the situation gets more and more complicated by the day, due to the unbearable heat."

Hindo noted that the Christians, like everyone else who fled from ISIS, "are concentrated in makeshift camps."

John Burger of Aleteia thought that the mass exodus of Christians in Hassakeh was as tragic as the fall of the Iraqi city of Mosul to ISIS in 2014.

"The situation is reminiscent of Mosul in June 2014, when Christian residents fled ISIS's takeover of Iraq's second-largest city," Burger wrote. "Many fled a second time when ISIS moved into the towns and villages in the Nineveh Plain region where they took refuge."

Archbishop Antoine Audo, the president of Caritas Syria, told Aleteia that only a few months ago, inhabitants of 36 Christian villages in northeastern Syria were forced to flee their homes. Many of them took shelter in Hassakeh, which is now overrun with ISIS militants.

"We fear that the same thing will be repeated in Hassakeh and Qamishli, where large numbers of Christians live," Audo said.

However, Lucchese pointed out that there was one important difference between the ISIS takeovers of Mosul and Hassakeh.

"While ISIS was able to secure Mosul with relative ease and little resistance, groups defending Hassakeh are still putting up something of a fight," Lucchese wrote.


Tags : ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State, Daesh, Syria, Hassakeh, Qamishli, northeastern Syria, Christians in Syria, Christian persecution, Christian persecution Syria, Mosul, ISIS attacks, ISIS attacks Christians, ISIS attacks on Christianity, Syrian Catholic church, Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, Archbishop Antoine Audo, Caritas Syria, Middle East