An Assyrian Christian organization has warned that Syria's Assyrian community could face a mass killing and has called on the international community to intervene, after militants from the Islamic State (IS) group abducted Assyrian Christians from villages in Syria's Hasakah Province.
Karam Dola, a member of the Assyrian Democratic Organization in Hasakah Province told Radio Free Iraq reporter Manar Abdulrazzaq on February 24 that militants had overran rural villages populated by Assyrian Christians at dawn on February 23.
"In Tel Hormuz there were not many families, but there were more than 13 people, elderly men, women and children who were kidnapped," Dola said.
According to Dola, up to 90 people from the village of Tel Shamiram are also considered missing.
"They were unable to escape when [the IS group] overran the area at dawn," Dola added.
The British-based group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the violence in Syria via a network of contacts, also reported that at least 90 Assyrian Christians had been abducted by militants in Tel Shamiram and Tel Hormuz.
Moreover, SOHR said that 14 Islamic State militants had been killed in U.S.-led air strikes east of the town of Tel Hamis in Hasakah.
Dola said that on February 24, 34 villages on the banks of the Khabur River in Hasakah province had been evacuated and residents moved to Hasakah town or to the town of Qamishli.
The Assyrian community in Syria is extremely concerned about the situation, according to Dola, who told Radio Free Iraq that there are about 600 Assyrian families in Hasakah province.
"We in the Assyrian Democratic Organization have sent out a distress call to the international community and to all national forces to immediately intervene and prevent the occurrence of [the] expected massacre," Dola said.
Dola warned that the Assyrian community in Syria is "at risk of extinction."
According to the pro-opposition Step News Agency, the Islamic State group's military commander in Syria, the ethnic Kist Umar Shishani, is leading the offensive in Hasakah. That news, which is plausible based on previous offensives in northern Syria, has not been independently reported on pro-Islamic State Russian-language social media.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk