After capturing key Syrian town of Qaryatain from the Assad forces, the Islamic State (Isis) terrorists have reportedly abducted more than 250 Assyrian Christians.
The Isis took control of the heavily populated town Qaryatain near Homs on Thursday following overnight clashes. It now gives Isis a strategic advantage as it links the ancient city of Palmyra with the eastern countryside of Qalamoun, north of Damascus.
In a press statement released on Friday evening, Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Homs said that 250 Christian men, women and children were taken hostage by the Isis.
Concerned about the safety of the abducted Christians, the Syrian church representatives requested human rights organisations and churches to hold sit-in demanding the release of the innocent people of Qaryatain.
Earlier in the day, it was reported that 230 residents of the Syrian city, including 150 Assyrian Christians, were kidnapped. UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) had reported that there were 45 women and 19 children among the 230 people kidnapped by the radical Islamist group.
The SOHR had also reported that the Isis fighters were carrying a list of names and were taking people hostage according to it. Several residents hiding inside Dar Alyan monastery were also captured, sources told SOHR.
Meanwhile, A Demand for Action (ADFA) -- an organisation campaigning for Assyrian Christian minorities in Syria -- said in a Facebook post that 300 Syrian Christians were able to flee the city during the onslaught.
Hundreds of residents were still reported to be trapped in the villages of the city and their relatives were not able to get in touch with them yet, ADFA said in a statement.
Since the Isis onslaught, which began on 5 August, over 1,400 residents of Qaryatain have fled to nearby towns of Fayrouza, Zidel and the city of Homs.
ADFA media representative Diana Yaqco told IBTimes India that the Syrian Orthodox Archdiocese of Homs was trying to negotiate with the Isis for the release of the abducted Christians.