The Islamic State terror group has distributed online photos of three women believed to be kidnapped Assyrian Christians, warning that if a ransom is not paid for their freedom, the women will be turned into sex slaves.
MailOnline reported that the three women who appear in the photos, holding pieces of paper which reveal their names and the date July 27, are likely part of the over 200 Assyrians kidnapped by IS in February in Syria.
The Assyrian Federation of Sweden cautioned that it cannot yet be confirmed whether the women in the photos are indeed those kidnapped from the Assyrian village of Tel Shamiram, but said that their surnames suggest that it is so.
“These names are names you find in Assyrian villages,” the group said. It added that the suggestion that they are being ransomed for money to pay for IS’ terror activities in Iraq and Syria also makes sense, but can not be confirmed at this point.
Another recently released IS video shows eight kidnapped Assyrian men reading out their names and the villages they are from.
The Assyrian Federation said that it is certain those men are among the Christians kidnapped by the jihadists in the Khabur River raids in February.
“They state their names in the video and we have a list of the hostages so we can clearly see they are one of them,” spokesman Afram Yakoub said.
“No IS fighter appears in the video, but the last man clearly says we call on the international community to secure our release but he does not say anything about ransom.”
A major report released by The New York Times last week detailed the IS’ praise of sexual slavery, noting that many of the jihadists believe that raping children and young girls is like a “prayer” that draws them closer to God.
The terror group has heavily targeted both Christians and Yazidis, whom it has captured throughout Iraq and Syria, forcing many of the captured women into sexual slavery.
Earlier in August IS kidnapped as many as 100 Assyrian families from the town of al-Qaryatain in the Homs district of western Syria. Last week, however, it released 22 Assyrians believed to be part of the group kidnapped from the Khabur region.
It is not yet clear why IS released the small group of Christians, but the Assyrian Observatory for Human Rights said the hostages were freed due to “the tireless efforts and negotiations by the Assyrian Church of the East in the city of Hasakeh.”
The Assyrian Network for Human Rights Director Osama Edward vowed that negotiations will continue to free all of the hostages.
“There is a positive atmosphere around the negotiation,” Edward said last week.