Damascus, Syria – Militant fighters of Islamic State group (IS/ISIS) abducted about 220 civilians, including at least 60 Christians, after seizing the key town al-Qaryatain in the countryside of Homs, local activists reported on Friday.
“Daesh (IS) kidnapped 160 Sunnis and more than 60 Christians in the al-Qaryatain town in Homs province on charges of having links with the Syrian regime,” local activists told ARA News.
More than 2000 Christians used to reside al-Qaryatain before the outbreak of the anti-Assad uprising mid-March 2011. Most of them left the town after violence hit Homs province.
Last May, IS gunmen abducted Father Jack Murad, head of Mar Alyan monastery in al-Qaryatain town after seizing the nearby ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria.
Militants of the Islamic State took over the entire town of al-Qaryatain after clashes with regime army forces on Thursday, locals said.
“Fierce clashes broke out on Wednesday between Daesh (IS) and pro-Assad forces, ending with Daesh’s control over Al-Qaryatain town on Thursday afternoon,” Muhammad Shami, a local media activist, told ARA News in Homs.
Some 37 regime soldiers were killed, while 23 IS militants were killed during the battle for al-Qaryatain, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The town held strategic importance because of its location along a road linking the ancient city of Palmyra, which has been held by IS since May, with Qalamoun region in Damascus province.
Reporting by: Egid Yousef
Source: ARA News
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