Christians Flee Advancing ISIS Forces in Syria
BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say hundreds of Christian families are fleeing a central Syrian town as Islamic State fighters advance toward it.
Osama Edward, the director of the Christian Assyrian Network for Human Rights in Syria, said "hundreds of families" have fled the Christian town of Sadad toward the government-held central city of Homs and the capital, Damascus.
A Syria-based activist says intense clashes took place Saturday near the central town of Qaryatain, which the Islamic State group captured on Thursday. Qaryatain is about 25 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of Sadad.
Activists said the Islamic State group abducted 230 residents, including dozens of Christians, from Qaryatain in recent days. Activists say some Christians were released, though the fate of the others is still unknown.
Saturday marks one year since the U.S. began airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq. A U.S.-led coalition has conducted nearly 6,000 airstrikes against the extremists, expanding its operations to Syria as well. But the group remains able to launch attacks across its self-declared "caliphate" in both countries, despite some gains by Kurdish fighters and allied Iraqi forces.