Captured Christians were released earlier this week from IS extremists after a Sharia court decision to set them free. An Assyrian commander said 29 were released, but only 19 were counted at Hassaka city on March 2.
Charisma News reports the 19 former captives were all more than 50 years old and included 17 men and two women. They were all from Tel Goran village, except for one.
"We did not believe that we would come out alive," one of the released Christians later told the Assyrian International News Agency. "We were in constant fear."
Then March 3, four more captives were released into Hassaka. One of those four included a 6-year-old girl and her great aunt.
"They kept pressuring us to convert to Islam. It was their constant focus. But we were not mistreated,” one of the released hostages said. "We said we would pay the jizya (tax), but we would not convert."
Under the conditions of the release, the captives are not allowed to return to their villages.
"They said if we returned and they captured us again, they would kill us. They would behead the men and enslave the women."
According to some reports, the northern part of Khabour River is controlled by Assyrian and Kurdish fighters and the nearly 3,000 Christians in the area have fled to Hassaka and Qamishli, Rev. Emanuel Youkhana, head of the Christian Aid Program in Northern Iraq said.
"We are focusing on the life-saving and safe release of these people,” Youkhana said of the remaining captives. “Our bishop and church in Hassaka are doing their best."
Publication date: March 6, 2015
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.