Assyrians hold banners as they march in solidarity with the Assyrians abducted by Islamic State fighters in Syria earlier this week.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Islamic State militants strategically targeted Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria in a series of brutal attacks on Saturday, causing clashes with Kurdish militia in the area.
Most of the fighting occurred on the northern banks of the river as ISIS attempted to capture Tal Talmr, a crossroad 35 km from the city of Hassakeh. By capturing the crossroad, ISIS would have a direct corridor to the eastern border of Iraq.
The ISIS offensive in the town of Tal Tamr has advanced to numerous surrounding areas. Since they began the offensive in the region, they have gained control of over 10 villages near Tal Tamr. The city is 40 km south of the Turkish border and currently lies under Kurdish control.
The attacks come just weeks after the Islamic State kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians from nearby towns. In the time since the kidnappings, ISIS has released 23 Assyrian Christians.
Since February, over 5,000 people have fled the region out of fear of a jihadi advancement.
Meanwhile in the Hama province, the government conducted airstrikes on an ISIS convoy, killing up to 26 militants, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human rights. Kurdish fighters supported by the Assyrian military have also reportedly fought off militants in Tal Nasari, just south of Tal Tamr.
Numerous Assyrian Christians have joined with the Kurdish forced to help defend Tal Tamr, according to the Assyrian Network for Human Rights. The group told the AFP that “this is the most violent offensive on the town in a long time.”
Assyrian Christians make up one of the world’s oldest Middle Eastern Christian communities, tracing their roots back to ancient Mesopotamia. sign up to our newsletter