Around 160 Christians are thought to have been captured when Daesh (ISIS) took over the town of Al Qaryatayn near Homs, Syria on Thursday 6th August according to a priest working in the region. But speaking to ACN, Father Jihad Youssef he said that the exact number of hostages was unclear.

“We do not know if all of the remaining Christians were taken as hostages by ISIS, or if some went into hiding. At the end of the week, some 30 Christians succeeded in fleeing from the town. Some are shepherds and they know the region. They fled to Homs.”                                                          

Priests and other religious are on the frontline of the continuing conflict raging across Syria. Only in May 2015, Fr Youssef’s collegue, Fr Jacques Mourad, was kidnapped in Al Qaryatayn together with Deacon Boutros. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

“We have absolutely no information about Fr Jacques’ condition, or where he is,” said Fr Youssef. “We have tried everything. I do not know how the latest events in Al Qaryatayn will affect our brothers’ situation. If a solution can be found for all of the hostages, perhaps Fr Jacques and Deacon Boutros will be included.”

Fr Youssef also expressed his gratitude for the support ACN has provided for Christians in Syria. He said: “ACN has done so much for us, especially in Al Qaryatayn. We thank the benefactors with all our heart.”

Since May there has been no news about when or even if Father Jacques and the other hostages will be released. There is one glimmer of hope – unconfirmed reports suggest that Father Jacques has been seen recently so at least we know he and the others were still alive two weeks ago. 

Please keep them all in your daily prayers.