The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, a monitoring group that tracks violence in Syria said Tuesday. The alleged kidnappings appeared to be in direct response to recent gains made by Kurdish forces. Few details about the fate of the hostages were available.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIL fighters carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by Assyrian Christians, an ancient Christian minority, west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by Kurds.
Syrian Kurdish militias have renewed their assault on ISIL in recent days, launching two offensives against it in northeastern Syria on Sunday, helped by U.S.-led airstrikes and Iraqi peshmerga who have been shelling ISIL territory from their side of the nearby border.
This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against ISIL because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where last year the group committed atrocities against the Yazidi community.
Tel Tamr, a town near the Assyrian Christian villages where the alleged abductions occurred, has witnessed heavy clashes between ISIL and the Kurdish YPG militia, the Observatory said.
Al Jazeera and Reuters