An Assyrian Christian woman has shared how members of the Islamic State terrorist group brutally murdered her son because he refused to deny his faith in Jesus Christ.
During an interview with the Southern California-based human rights group Roads of Success, Syrian mother Alice Assaf recalled how ISIS overtook her hometown, the Damascus suburb of Adra al-Ummaliya, in 2014, and immediately began killing Christians.
"Members of 200 different families were killed right before our eyes," Assaf said, according to an English translation provided by Roads of Success in a YouTube video. "They shot them. We witnessed the shooting of so many. So I told my children [and thought] it was better for us to die in our own home so that our other family members would know our fate. When we got home, one person said to me, ... 'ISIS is killing Christians.'"
Assaf shared how militants killed indiscriminately, massacring at least six men and about 250 children - all under four years old - at a nearby bakery.
"Later on, we heard that the militants grabbed six strong men working at the bakery and burned them inside the oven," she explained. "After that, they caught some 250 kids and kneaded them like dough in the bakery dough machine."
A short time later, members of the Syrian army began hiding out at Assaf's house: "I told my son that we might be killed because of the soldiers hiding in our home," she said. "My son answered: 'I prefer to die than run away.' So when ISIS raided the tenement building where we live, my neighbor come over and asked my son to use a Muslim name, 'Khaled.' But he said, 'No. No. I don't want to die with the name 'Khaled.'"
"My son said to me, 'No, mother, I don't want to die with an identity not my own. I prefer to die with the name George,'" Assaf continued. "I asked my son then to hide, but he refused and said, 'I don't want to hide myself. You are the one who taught me to follow what Christ said' - 'whoever denies me before man, I will also deny before my father who is in Heaven.'"
Sadly, Assaf and her family were exposed by Muslim neighbors who informed the terrorist group that soldiers were hiding in their home. Immediately, ISIS fighters stormed the family's house and ordered them to convert to Islam.
"So, they broke into the house like crazy and arrested my son," she explained. "They told him they would not kill him if he abandoned his religion. But, he said to them, 'I will never abandon my religion.' So, they started to beat him in the guest room. They took him to backyard and shot him. And they killed him."
Assad said she consoles herself with the fact that her son died a true Christian, but said it still pains her that she doesn't know where he was buried.
"The army buried him in a mass grave because there were many people dead," she said. "Yes, many were killed. I continued to search for my son in hospitals for two months, hoping to find him among the corpses. I went over and over again to look for him and I did not give up hope until they confirmed his death a while ago. My wish was to find his body and bury him myself."
Assyrian Christians are among Syria and Iraq's earliest inhabitants, and have suffered extreme persecution at the hands of ISIS fighters. Since overtaking large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014, ISIS has killed, tortured, and displaced thousands of Assyrian Christians in an effort to purge the area of religions other than Islam.
Meanwhile, World Watch Monitor reports that many of those displaced continue to be deprived of their homes and are still caught in the crossfire even as ISIS continue to lose ground in the Middle East.
The organization found that Assyrian Christians, specifically those in Tel Nasri, Tel Goran and other villages, still could not return to their homes because Kurdish militias now occupy these communities after they drove out ISIS militants.
"Two weeks ago, a senior Syrian Catholic figure was quoted as saying Kurdish militias were carrying out acts of violence and intimidation against Assyrian Christians in Hassake, the main city in the north-eastern province of the same name - and where the Khabour villages are," reads the report. "In recent days the YPG has put up signs in different places in the villages, warning the area is 'dangerous and mined'. Assyria TV called this 'a trick' to scare Assyrians and justify occupation."