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AT SWORD EDGES: PRAYERS FOR THE BELOVED AT HASAKAH

Al-Hasakah Governorate  is a governorate in the far north-east corner of Syria. It is distinguished by its fertile lands, plentiful water, picturesque nature, and more than one hundred archaeological sites. It encompasses part of the former Al-Jazira province. Prior to the Syrian Civil War nearly half of Syria’s oil was extracted from the region

Hasakah has always been one of the major goals of ISIS as it would allow further expansion of their control in Syria. After the group seized the control of Mosul, it wants to include Hasakah into its territories as well. Considering close ties between Arab tribes in Mosul and Hasakah, ISIS believes the city should be a part of its caliphate.

a church in hanaka

A church in Hasakah

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A once beautiful, and largely quite town.  Town folks being massacred last year.

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A mas wedding at Hasakar, when the going was good.

Besides, Hasakah is an important road junction near the Turkish and Iraqi borders. Main road connecting Aleppo and Damascus are passing through Hasakah. It is also an important agricultural region; wheat, rice, cotton etc.

If Hasakah falls into ISIS (which it now has) Jazira Canton of Kurds, cities like Qamishli, Derik (Malikiyah), Dirbesiye, Serekaniye (Ras al-ain) and Ramalan oil fields will also go under ISIS control. Such a development will mean a big blow for Kurdish achievements in Syria.

Aa at today, 26th Febfruary, 2014, fears abound that more members of an Assyrian Christian community in north-eastern Syria were abducted by Islamic State militants than at first thought. Initial reports had put the number of missing at 90, but one activist said as many as 285 people had been seized on Monday in Hassakeh province. Efforts to try to negotiate their release are reported to be under way. Some 1,000 local Assyrian families are believed to have fled their homes in the wake of the abductions.

Kurdish and Christian militia are still battling IS in the area, amid reports of churches and homes being set ablaze. Thousands of Christians in Syria have been forced from their homes by the threat from IS militants. In areas under their control, Christians have been ordered to convert to Islam, pay jizya (a religious levy), or face death. IS militants in Libya also recently beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.

The Assyrians were seized by the militants as they swept into 12 villages along the southern bank of the Khabur river near the town of Tal Tamr before dawn on Monday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based activist group, said at least 90 people had been abducted, most of them women, children and the elderly. However, the Syriac National Council of Syria put the figure as high as 150, while Afram Yakoub of the Assyrian Federation of Sweden said sources on the ground had told him that up to 285 people were missing, including 156 from the village of Tal Shamran and 90 from Tal al-Jazira. “These were peaceful villages that had nothing to do with the battles,” Nasir Haj Mahmoud, a Kurdish official in the YPG militia in north-eastern Syria, told the Reuters news agency. There are conflicting reports as to where the families have been taken.

Kino Gabriel, a spokesman for the Syriac Military Council – a Christian militia fighting alongside the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) – told the BBC that it believed the captives had been taken to Abdul Aziz Mountain. Osama Edward of the Sweden-based Assyrian Human Rights Network told the AFP news agency that the captives had been taken to the IS stronghold of Shaddadi, as did Syria’s state news agency, Sana. Another report said they were in Raqqa, 145km (90 miles) to the west, the de facto capital of the “caliphate” declared by IS last June.

Daniel Ikwuagwu

A Christian. Conditioned to Create.

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