Map of Tal Tamer in the Al Hasakah countryside
The Islamic State abducted around 150 Assyrian Christians near the town of Tal Tamer in the Al Hasakah countryside in Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is reporting that the Assyrians were kidnapped in a pre-dawn raid in the town as part of a larger offensive on Assyrian villages in the area. The Islamic State was able to take over several villages in the offensive. In addition to kidnapping the Assyrian civilians, the Syriac International News Agency has reported that at least one church has been destroyed by the jihadist group.
The kidnappings come after the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit’s (YPG) and the Syriac Military Council (MFS), an Assyrian military group operating in eastern Syria and in the Ninewa province of Iraq, launched an offensive on Islamic State positions in the region. The MFS released a statement on Twitter yesterday saying, “Although there has been resistance against ISIS, the terrorist organization has been able to capture the villages of Tal Shamiran, Tal Tawil, Tal Hourmiz, and several surrounding villages of Tal Tamer.” However, the MFS said that its forces, fighters from the YPG, and fighters from the Sutoro are still fighting the Islamic State in the region today. The Sutoro is an Assyrian Christian militia that operates in Al Hasakah.
SOHR is reporting that the YPG, MFS, and the Sutoro has been able to retake over 30 villages in the region, while the Islamic State has launched at least one vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) on Kurdish forces. The VBIED attack left no one injured, but at least 11 Islamic State fighters and several fighters from the YPG have been killed according to the SOHR.
The Islamic State has also released several pictures from fighting near Tal Tamer today. The photos show Islamic State fighters with technicals, old bolt-action sniper rifles, mortars, and an armored vehicle. One photo shows fighters planning the battle, while another shows two Islamic State fighters with a captured YPG vehicle. The photos were produced by the Islamic State’s Wilayat Raqqah and not it’s Wilayat Baraka [this administrative division of the jihadist group consists of Syria’s Al Hasakah province], which could signal operational overlap between the two administrative divisions. As of the writing of this post, the Islamic State has yet to release any photos of the captured Assyrians. Some reports have suggested that several have been rescued by the YPG, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Photos from the Islamic State in Tal Tamer can be seen below
Technicals mounted with anti-air weapons:
Islamic State snipers:
Planning the operation:
Captured YPG technical:
Islamic State BMP being used in the fighting:
The numbers have been changed to reflect the new tally of Assyrians kidnapped by the Islamic State in Al Hasakah.