Friday, August 07, 2015

Islamic State Seizes Dozens of Syrian Christians in Homs Province

Militant group seeks to establish stronghold in strategic location outside major city of Homs

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: BEIRUT--Islamic State is holding dozens of Christians in the southeastern Syrian province of Homs, Syrian Orthodox community leaders said Friday, after seizing the town of Qaryatain as part of the militant group’s efforts to establish a stronghold outside the major city of Homs.

The seizing of Christians came as Islamic State entered the town of Qaryatain on Wednesday, after attacking Syrian regime checkpoints by detonating three suicide bombs, according to Islamic State media.

The precise number of Christians rounded up in the raid isn’t clear. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group, says over 230 were kidnapped, among them 60 Christians. Residents of nearby towns said the numbers kidnapped couldn’t be verified, and some of the victims may be staying in their homes under orders of Islamic State.

“We have no communication with them as land lines and mobile lines are being cut off,” said Bishop Philip Barakat, an Episcopal Vicar in Homs city, the capital of Homs province. » | Dana Ballout and Mohammad Nour Al Akraa | Friday, August 7, 2015