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International – Syrian human shields

February 2016

Twenty-two Syrian Christian families, totalling more than 60 people, are being held captive by Islamic State (IS) in Raqqa, the capital city of their territory.

Reports from Barnabas Fund partners in the region claimed that the families tried to escape about two weeks ago, but were detained and returned to the city, where they are now trapped.

Sources informed Barnabas Fund that they were apparently being used by IS as a human shield. Many other Syrian Christians are known to be held currently as formal hostages by the militant Islamic group.

In December, the British parliament voted to extend airstrikes from Iraq into Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron had described Raqqa as the ‘head of the snake’, which had to be destroyed.

Currently the Russians, Americans, French and other nations are involved in an intensive bombing campaign against IS targets in Syria and Iraq.

A statement from Barnabas Fund said, ‘While it is believed that civilians will in no way be targeted, there is a danger that IS will seek to exploit these attacks by deliberately exposing Christians, whom they regard as infidels, to such bombing and then blame those nations involved in the bombing for these civilian casualties.

‘The situation facing the small Christian groups left in Raqqa in terms of food and medicine is desperate. In Aleppo, while conditions have eased somewhat recently with improved communications and supplies, the situation remains desperate in other parts of Syria’.