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USCIRF Condemns Abduction of more than 200 Assyrian Christians and Urges Their Immediate Release


February 27, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the abduction of more than 200 Assyrian Christians by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northeastern Syria and calls for the international community to work for their immediate release.

“The lives of these Assyrian Christians – including women, children and the elderly – hang in the balance: they were abducted solely because of their Christian faith,” said USCIRF Chair Katrina Lantos Swett.  “Let us be clear: these individuals are facing death.  They face the same fate as their Coptic Christian brothers who were brutally slaughtered by ISIL last month.”

"The United States and like-minded nations must redouble efforts to protect religious minorities, such as these Assyrian Christians, as well as others such as Yazidis, Shi’a Muslims, Sunnis who disagree with ISIL’s ideology and others targeted by this barbaric group.  The U.S. and the international community should work together to secure their release and provide humanitarian assistance to those who have been displaced,” continued Lantos Swett.

Last year, for the first time ever, USCIRF recommended that Syria be designated a “country of particular concern” (CPC) under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.

Click here for USCIRF’s work on ISIL and here for USCIRF’s 2014 Annual Report.

To interview a USCIRF Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@uscirf.gov or 202-786-0613.