04 March 2015 12:19 by Liz Dodd
Another four Christian hostages have been freed by Islamic State jihadists in Syria, according to a television channel dedicated to Assyrian news.
Assyria TV yesterday spoke to people who met the four former hostages, a married couple and a mother and her 6-year-old daughter. The circumstances of their release are as yet unknown.
At least 19 others were released on Sunday after hundreds of Assyrian Christians were seized by Islamic State (IS) jihadists in north eastern Syria last week.
Bashir Saedi, a senior official in the Assyrian Democratic Organisation, said that the group of 16 men and three women arrived at the Church of the Virgin Mary in the city of Hassakeh, in north-east Syria, on Sunday after their families paid ransoms or jizya, a tax paid by non-Muslims.
The Assyrian Human Rights Network published photographs on its Facebook http://www.ourhealthissues.com/product/zovirax/ page apparently showing the captives’ return.
The freed Christians arrived as tens of thousands of pilgrims in St Peter’s Square joined Pope Francis in silent prayer on Sunday for the Syrian Christians still being held captive.
After leading the Angelus prayer in St Peter’s Square Francis told persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria that he did not forget them, but was close to them and prayed “insistently”.
He urged everyone “according to their ability to work to alleviate the suffering of those who are afflicted, often only because of the faith they profess.”
Terrorists have reportedly begun murdering some of the Christian hostages captured from villages in north-east Syria since Monday.
The number of Assyrian Christian men, women and children abducted is thought to exceed 350, according to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).