IS Kidnaps 90 Syrians From Christian Villages

IS Kidnaps 90 Syrians From Christian VillagesIS Kidnaps 90 Syrians From Christian Villages

Islamic State militants abducted at least 90 people from Assyrian Christian villages in northeastern Syria, a monitoring group that tracks violence in Syria said on Tuesday.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants carried out dawn raids on rural villages inhabited by the ancient Christian minority west of Hasaka, a city mainly held by the Kurds, Reuters wrote.

Syrian Kurdish militia have renewed their assault on the militants, launching two offensives against them in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped from US-led airstrikes and Iraqi peshmerga forces who have been shelling IS-held territory from their side of the nearby border.

This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against IS because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where last year the extremist group committed atrocities against the Yazidi community.

Tel Tamr, a town near the Assyrian Christian villages where the abductions occurred, has witnessed heavy clashes between IS fighters and the Kurdish YPG militia, the Observatory said.

  NZ Joins Anti-IS Coalition

New Zealand will send soldiers to help train Iraq’s armed forces fight IS militants, but would not be involved in combat, the government said on Tuesday.

Prime Minister John Key said up to 143 personnel from the NZ defense forces would join Australia “behind the wire” in training Iraqi forces.

“Sending our forces to Iraq is not an easy decision but it is the right decision,” Key said in a statement to New Zealand’s parliament. “We stand up for what’s right.”

The deployment was opposed by most political parties in a debate that followed Key’s statement, including two minor parties that support the center government.

Last year Key said the risks posed to New Zealand from IS had increased, with 35 to 40 New Zealanders under surveillance because of their support for the militants.