Thousands of Islamic State fighters with tanks have entered the northeastern province of Al-Hasakah, according to Robert Gabriel, a representative of the American Syriac Union, who spoke with a commander of the Syriac Military Council, a Christian militia in the region.
“It is an urgent situation now,” said Gabriel. The Islamic State has taken control of eleven villages and is now fighting to overrun the other 24 Christian villages in the area, on the north side of the Khabur river.
There are also 400 missing Syrian Christians in the region recently hit by the Islamic State blitzkrieg, Gabriel said.
“We don’t know where they are,” he said. “Most of them, I think, are captured by ISIS. But we are not sure.”
Mohammed Ghanem, director of government relations at the Syrian American Council, confirmed the troops movements and figures of captured Christians.
Islamic State militants want to encircle the provincial capital city of Al-Hasakah, he said.
“They are trying to surround here like they did Kobani,” said Gabriel, referring to the city on the border between Syria and Turkey. It was overrun by Islamic State militants last October and retaken by Kurdish forces in January, after months of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.
Defending the region are the Syriac Military Council and Kurdish YPG militia. The Council has three battalions of 300-350 soldiers, according to Mr. Gabriel. It is unclear how many YPG forces have joined the Council in this latest fight against the Islamic State.
They need help from the coalition in terms of air strikes or military supplies such as arms and ammunition, says Mr. Gabriel.
“Kobani was just a small city … but it’s now more than a thirty kilometers wide area,” said Gabriel. And after losing control of Kobani, the Islamic State wants Al-Hasakah in order to control all of northeastern Syria.
“It’s a strategic point,” said Mr. Gabriel, who in daily, sometimes hourly, contact with local sources.
Eight hundred Syrian Christians fled to a church in the city of Al-Hasakah, say Ghanem, providing the Daily Caller News Foundation with the following pictures.
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