Damascus (AsiaNews) - After telling AsiaNews that 52 Christian families held by the Islamic State (IS) group had been released without a ransom paid, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria Mgr Mario Zenari updated his early information and said not all of the families are free.
Speaking to AsiaNews Monday evening (local time), the papal envoy said that fresh reports indicate that some of the families were not released.
"My source tells me that the release had already been decided upon and seemed a done deal," the prelate explained. "A few dozen families had already boarded the bus and left the area where they had been kept captive."
As the remaining families were preparing to get on other buses to leave, IS fighters stopped the operation when they came under attack, probably from Kurdish fighters. "IS still holds many families," the nuncio noted. "In fact, they took some more from three villages".
Now the situation is even more confusing, and it is unclear what might happen next. However, Mgr Zenari is keen to point out that the case of these Christian families "is not comparable to what happened to the 21 Copts killed in Libya."
In this case, IS forces "took the Christians for use as human shields" to protect their withdrawal under Kurdish attacks.
Sources told AsiaNews that in Syria abducted Christians are still afforded some respect from IS fighters, especially if they are Syrian. Local Muslims know in fact the Church's commitment to the poor and to young people.
The same is not true with fighters from other Islamic countries like Chechnya, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.