The terror group known as ISIS is infamously known for taking hostages, especially those who are Christians or of other minority sects. Now the group is demanding a $30 million ransom in exchange for releasing hundreds of Christian hostages in Syria.
In an exclusive report written by Lisa Daftari of Fox News, between 250 and 300 Christians were abducted by ISIS in February. A source close to the negotiations between ISIS and the Assyrian leadership indicated that the Islamist group wanted $100,000 per individual.
"They know we cannot come up with this kind of money, so they are hoping other groups and countries will come up with the money," the unnamed official said.
According to Daftari, third-party Syrian Sunni Muslim groups are supposedly brokering the talks between both groups. ISIS has previously released up to 23 hostages.
"The reason for those releases was not known, but according to some of the freed hostages, they were prohibited from going back to their homes in Syria and instead told to leave the country," Daftari wrote.
Daftari reported that many of the Christians were taken hostage by ISIS after the terror group conducted raids on 35 Assyrian villages on Feb. 23 in the Hasaka province, an area where Christian communities have thrived for many generations. Nine Assyrians were killed trying to defend their villages against ISIS.
"Reports at the time indicated the Islamic State was using its Christian hostages as human shields in military confrontations," Daftari wrote.
Daftari cited state-run media that claimed ISIS militants brought large groups of Christian captives to strategic areas along the northeastern Syrian border as they fought against Kurdish and Christian militias. The Christian community in Iraq and Syria has long been a target for persecution by ISIS, although the kidnappings and ransom demands are a relatively new phenomenon.
"The Islamic State has long targeted Christian communities in the region, at first warning them to convert to Islam or pay a Jizya, a minority tax, and later abducting individuals and desecrating ancient landmarks and artifacts," Daftari wrote.
According to Daftari, ISIS has desecrated both churches and Christian graveyards across Iraq and Syria. Their most recent attack happened on Easter Sunday, when ISIS militants blew up an 80-year-old cathedral named Church of the Virgin Mary in Tal Nasri village.
"In late January, there were similar reports of a raid by the Islamic State on the same area, and threats to bomb churches if crosses were not removed," Daftari wrote.