Three Assyrian Christian women who were kidnapped by Islamic State militants will be turned into sex slaves if the ransom for their freedom is not paid, the jihadist group has warned.
The MailOnline first reported that photos leaked by ISIS-linked social media accounts depict three women, who are believed to be part of the 200 Assyrians kidnapped by IS in February, holding pieces of paper which reveal their names and the date July 27.
The report notes that experts fear this means the woman will be sold to ISIS fighters if their families or charities do not pay ransom for their release, although no figure appears on the signs they hold.
While the Assyrian Federation of Sweden has cautioned that it cannot yet be confirmed whether the women in the photos are in fact those kidnapped from the Assyrian village of Tel Shamiram, the women's surnames suggest that it is likely.
"The names resemble the family names of people in a nearby village - Tel Jazire - so it is possible that these women could be from Assyrian villages but we cannot confirm that," a source at the Federation told the British news outlet.
It added that the suggestion that they are being ransomed for money to pay for IS' terror activities in Iraq and Syria also makes sense, but can not be confirmed at this point.
Earlier in August, the jihadist fighters kidnapped as many as 100 Assyrian families from the town of al-Qaryatain in the Homs district of western Syria. Last week, 22 Assyrians believed to be part of the group kidnapped from the Khabur region were released by the terrorist organization.
While it remains unclear why the group was released, the Assyrian Observatory for Human Rights said the hostages were freed due to "the tireless efforts and negotiations by the Assyrian Church of the East in the city of Hasakeh."
According to the Federation, men shown in another recently-leaked ISIS video are almost certainly among the Christians kidnapped by the jihadists in the Khabur River raids.
"They state their names in the video and we have a list of the hostages so we can clearly see they are one of them," spokesman Afram Yakoub said.
"No IS fighter appears in the video, but the last man clearly says we call on the international community to secure our release but he does not say anything about ransom."
In an attempt to establish an Islamic caliphate throughout Iraq and Syria, ISIS has routinely targeted both Christians and Yazidis, forcing many of the captured women and girls into sexual slavery.
A recent New York Times report revealed that the group has "emphasized a narrow and selective reading of the Quran and other religious rulings to not only justify violence, but also to elevate and celebrate each sexual assault as spiritually beneficial, even virtuous."
According to a document released by the jihadist group, girls between the age of 1 and 9 are priced at around $170, with the price decreasing with age. Women between 40 and 50 years old go for as little as $40.
Before her death earlier this year, 26-year-old U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller was reportedly forced to have sex with the head of the Islamic State Abu Bakr Baghdadi, U.S. intelligence officials told her family in June. The group also recently executed 19 girls for refusing to have sex with ISIS soldiers, reported a Kurdish official from the area.