By editor - 17 August, 2015
By Dan Bergin – Source: SOHR, Caritas Syria
Courtesy: Independent Catholic News – http://www.indcatholicnews.com
Concerns are growing for the safely of about 250 people, mainly Christians, who were kidnapped by IS/Daesh from the village of Quaryatayn on 5 August.
The village occupies a strategic position near a road connecting Palmyra to the Qalamoun Mountains, along the border with Lebanon.
Jihadist forces had been sweeping through the region for weeks, claiming one village after another. Al Quaryatayn fell overnight after heavy fighting between IS and the Syrian army.
There were several suicide bombing attacks on military checkpoints.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), some people were taken from inside a church. It said IS was hunting down a list of people it suspected of “collaborating with the Syrian government”.
A local Christian militia said it believed the captives were taken away to a mountain, but their fate since then is unclear.
Christians in Quaryatay have been living in fear of IS since May this year, when Fr Jacques Mourad, the Syrian-Catholic priest responsible for Mar Elian convent was kidnapped.
A friend of Fr Jacques, Fr Iyad Ghanem, coordinator of the Caritas office in Homs, said “On the morning of his abduction, he sent a message to all his friends, expressing his concerns about the advance of ISIS in the region and especially approaching his village Quaryatayn”.
After Fr Jacques’ kidnapping, many Christian families fled the village, but more also arrived, fleeing from the fighting in Aleppo province to the north.
Metropolitan Mar Selwanos Boutros Al-Ne’meh, the Syriac Orthodox bishop of Homs, has urged for people to speak out in hope of releasing these families.
Last Tuesday, 11 August, Fr Iyad said there had been some good news.
IS forces allowed the kidnapped people to call their relatives to reassure them that they are still alive.
He said, “This gave the families of Quaryatayn in Homs a little bit of hope and relief, and gave me personally some hope to hear something new about my dear friend Jacques.”
But since then there has been no contact with the hostages.
See also: Praying for Father Jacques Mourad: https://www.facebook.com/PrayingForFatherMourad