Islamic State releases 10 Assyrian Christian hostages

Two of the hostages released by Islamic State.Assyria TV

Islamic State has released 10 Assyrian Christians, part of a group orginally numbering around 230 captured in February from villages in the Khabur river valley in north-eastern Syria.

More than 150 remain in captivity.

The release was reported by the Assyrian International News Agency, which also gave the names of the five men and five women who were released.

A statement from the Assyrian Network for Human Rights (ANHR) said: "The network's monitors in Hasakah were informed that the released Assyrians arrived in the mostly-Assyrian town of Tel Temir at 17:00 on Tuesday.

"The released Assyrians, who are residents of the towns of Tel Shamiram, Tel Jazeera, Qabr Shamiya and Tel Fayda, are in good health conditions."

ANHR said that 98 hostages, mainly sick and elderly, had been freed.

IS has been demanding large amounts of ransom money for the hostages. It is not known how much has been paid.

Osama Edward, director of the ANHR, told ARA news that as well as being threatened by Islamic State, Assyrian Christian in Hasakah were also under pressure from local Kurdish authorities. He said that they "worked roughly against Assyrians through suspicious political and administrative procedures which seek to evacuate the area of its inherent Assyrian component".