The terrorist organization ISIS has released over 40 Christian hostages yesterday. According to reports, this is the last batch of the more than 200 hostages kidnapped by the group in Syria a year ago.
The 43 released hostages are currently on their way to the town of Tal Tamr in northeastern Syria. They are part of the 250 Assyrian Christians abducted by the extremist organization in February of 2015 in Syria's Khabour region, USA Today reported.
Over the past few months, ISIS started releasing many of its hostages in batches. Originally, the organization was asking for $100,000 for each hostage but through negotiations, this number was eventually reduced.
The latest release was made possible through the mediation of a priest from the Assyrian Democratic Association. According to numerous sources, the priest and other members of the group negotiated with ISIS leaders to lower the ransom for the hostages.
However, it is not yet clear how much the group paid but according to a report from the Daily Mail, the ransom was below $18 million.
"We paid large amounts of money, millions of dollars, but not $18 million," an anonymous source who's associated with the Assyrian organization said. "We paid less than half the amount."
Despite the good news, many Christians in the area still worry about the growing threat posed by ISIS. Due to the constant raids carried out by ISIS in various towns, many of their residents are forced to leave their homes and become refugees in other regions.
Also, during the negotiations for the release of the hostages which began last year, ISIS confirmed that it has killed three hostages.
"While this news thankfully marks the end of the most recent tribulation, we mourn the tremendous losses, both human and material, suffered by the Indigenous Assyrians of Syria," the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization said in a statement according to Rudaw.net.