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ISIS Reportedly Abducts Dozens Of Christians In Syria

Extremist fighters from the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, have kidnapped "at least" 90 Assyrian Christians in northeastern Syria, according to a monitoring group. The claim emerges from an area recently targeted by coalition attacks.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the mass abduction took place in rural villages in the al-Hasakah province. Details have been sparse, and the number of people said to have been kidnapped has increased, from 56 people in early reports Monday to 90 people on Tuesday.

Last week, a branch of ISIS in Libya released a video in which 21 men were beheaded. As NPR's Leila Fadel reported, "All but one were confirmed to be Christian laborers from Egypt."

The new attack was reported in the portion of Syria that's less than 150 miles west of Mosul, Iraq, in an area where Kurdish fighters have been fighting ISIS for control.

Reuters reports:

"Syrian Kurdish militia have renewed their assault on the militants, launching two offensives against them in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped from U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga who have been shelling Islamic State-held territory from their side of the nearby border.

"This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where last year the ultra-hardline group committed atrocities against the Yazidi community."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.