Homs – Sound and Picture
IS kidnapped 230 civilians, including at least 60 Christians after gaining control over Al-Qaryaten city in Homs Province \ central Syria. The reporter of (Sound and Picture) in Homs informed us that “IS kidnapped almost 170 Sunnis and nearly 60 Christian, on Thursday August 5th, after charging them of spying for the regime during a raid carried out by IS members in Al-Qaryaten city; the city dominated by IS on the sixth of this month after clashes with the regime forces. Our reporter said that IS had a name list of individuals wanted by the organization, but they arrested entire families who had intended to flee because of the fighting and violent bombardment of regime forces on the region and also by fear of the oppression of the organization. Archbishop Matta Al-Khoury the secretary of Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus in a press statement stated that: “We have no definite information about the incident of kidnapping because of the difficulty of communications with the city’s residents, but we learned from the people in contact with the residents that the organization detained citizens in their homes and put them under house arrest.”. Archbishop added: “The goal of this may be using the detainees as human shields” to prevent the regime forces from shelling the city or trying to achieve progress.” Omar, one of Al-Qaryaten residents, said: “18 thousand Sunnis and two thousand Christians have been living together in Al-Qaryaten before the outbreak of the revolution against the regime in mid-March 2011. However, only 300 Christian were still in the city before the attack of IS”. Omar pointed out that 180 Christian were present by the time IS entered the city that has a Muslim majority of residents, unlike the surrounding cities and villages. ” Eyewitnesses confirmed the presence of a hundred Syriac families held by the organization within the city. Al-Qaryaten city has a strategic importance to IS due to its existence on the road linking the ancient city of Palmyra, dominated by IS on 21 May 2015 and IS’s control areas in the eastern countryside of Kalamoon in Damascus Province, which allows IS to transport its fighters and supplies between the two regions.