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After months of negotiations with the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group, small groups of Assyrian Christian hostages have been released. One of the most recent of those released consisted of ten Assyrian Christians, including five women, who were freed from captivity on the night of November 24th in Tel Temir town, Hasakah province. These Assyrians were part of a mass abduction that took place in February, numbering more than 200 captured victims, when the Islamic militants attacked various villages along the Khabur river valley. The February raids had also driven another 3,000 Assyrians from the villages. To date, most of them have not returned home.

"The total number of those released since the start of negotiations has reached 98, mostly the sick and elderly," claims the Assyrian Network for Human Rights. The Assyrian International News Agency reports that 158 Assyrians from Khabur are still in captivity. Other Assyrian hostages are in the custody of ISIS elsewhere, including the 185 hostages who were seized from Qaryatain.

Unfortunately, many Assyrians have been unable to pay the hefty ransoms demanded by ISIS. In October, when negotiators failed to secure a $12 million settlement, the terrorists threatened to kill all the hostages. Further negotiations to release the hostages are in progress, but details are being withheld due to the "gravity and sensitivity of the situation," according to Osama Edward, director of the Assyrian Network for Human Rights. Concerns for the lives of the remaining hostages persist, as members of ISIS have expressed a willingness to follow through on their threats. More information on the crisis in Syria is available at the Syria Country Report.

While we can thank the Lord for the safe return of the hostages who have been released thus far, please join us in praying for the protection of those still being held in captivity. Also pray for God's wisdom and guidance to be granted to the negotiators who are carefully mediating on behalf of the remaining victims. May these negotiators be blessed with further success. In the midst of this terrible crisis, where so many innocent lives are on the line, ask the Lord to provide continued comfort, strength and encouragement to all the hostages and their distraught loved ones. Last, but not least, intercede for the members of ISIS who themselves are in bondage spiritually. In addition to the diminished expansion and influence of this terrorist group, may a great number of them experience the salvation and freedom that take place when encountering the Risen Saviour.

Country Information

Population
20,384,316 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Arab (50), Alawite (15) Kurd (10), Levantine (10) other (15)

Religion (%)
Islam (87), Christianity (10), Druze (3)

Leader
President Bashar al-Asad (2000)

Government type
Presidential republic; highly authoritarian regime

Legal system
Mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law (for family courts)

Ssource: CIA World Factbook.

Pray for Syria

Pray that the Lord of hosts will intervene in Syria to "preserve all who love Him" and "frustrate the way of the wicked" (Psalm 145:20; Psalm 146:9). Ask that the Spirit of God will subvert the rebellion of the militant groups so the "will for peace" shall indeed prevail over "the will for war." May the Lord provide for Syria's churches, ensuring that they are adequately equipped with the necessary ministry tools, resources and workers to continue faithfully serving and ministering as lights in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16).

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