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    » 03/09/2015, 00.00


    BREAKING NEWS: Not all Christian hostages in Syria freed, more families abducted

    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.


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    See also

    25/02/2015 SYRIA
    IS abducts 150 Christians, rapes and kills women, a "tragic situation" for vicar to Aleppo
    A steady stream of horrific stories is coming out of jihadist-held areas. Terrorists hold hundreds of Christians, including seniors and children. For apostolic nuncio to Damascus, "Christians feel abandoned". There is "blood everywhere" and everyone is suffering. He believes that the war on terrorism is pointless but oil, "financial and military supplies" should be cut off.

    07/08/2015 SYRIA
    More than 60 Christians among 230 Syrian civilians abducted by the Islamic State in al-Qaryatain
    After they seized the city, Jihadis detained hundreds of people, accusing them of collaborating with the Assad regime. People are not allowed to leave the city. IS militiamen detain entire families. Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate says contacts with locals are "very difficult". IS wants to use civilians as "human shields".

    04/04/2016 17:00:00 SYRIA
    Easter in Damascus: Christians and Muslims in the streets for a celebration of peace

    Riad Sargi, a Catholic engineer, spoke to AsiaNews about the recent festivity, celebrated in a “fantastic” atmosphere, with churches "crowded with the faithful”. Christians and Muslims exchanged visits and greetings, wishing for a return to a "normal life”. A French delegation saw Syria’s multi-cultural nature and the ideal of "Arab secularism".

    13/03/2015 SYRIA
    Nuncio to Syria has no news about abducted Christians, but is "confident" in a positive outcome
    Mgr Zenari told AsiaNews that the Islamic State group still holds about 200 Christians. He regrets that a previous release attempt failed because of an ambush that forced the Jihadists to retreat. For the prelate, there is still enough "good will to find a solution."

    09/03/2015 SYRIA
    Nuncio to Damascus: IS releases 52 abducted Christian families without a ransom payment
    No money was exchanged for the hostages, who were part of a group of 250 people taken by jihadists. Some 16 people, eight Christians and eight Kurds, are still in IS hands. The hostages were seized for use as "human shields," Mgr Zenari said. Meanwhile, fighting continued yesterday in Damascus and Aleppo.

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