ISIS is expected to execute 180 Assyrian Christians kidnapped as a part of an ethnic-cleansing campaign, international monitors report. The terrorist group “has specifically targeted Assyrians, looking to drive them out of their millennia-old communities,” according to the Christian Post.
Reuters reports that the captives were taken from northeastern Syria in February, and that three of them were executed last month in conjunction with an Islamic holiday. Negotiations intended to secure their release for a ransom have been “suspended due to [ISIS’s] unbearable demands,” Assyrian Human Rights Network executive director Osama Edward said. The news comes about two weeks after Russia began bombing actions in Syria to assist Bashar al-Assad’s embattled regime.
Though the Kremlin claims the campaign is intended to fight terrorism in the country, Russian jets appear to be targeting the U.S.-backed anti-Assad rebels instead of ISIS. For months, the Obama administration has been bombing ISIS while calling for Assad’s departure from power, so Russia’s actions put the two nations at cross-purposes in Syria. On Sunday, Russian president Vladimir Putin mocked President Obama’s efforts to bolster the Free Syrian Army (FSA). “It would have been better to give us $500 million,” Putin said. “At least we would have used it more effectively from the point of view of fighting international terrorism.”