Edited by Nelly T.
Reports have claimed Islamic State militants have stormed the town of al-Qaryatain and killed around 21 Syrian Christians. Russian backed Syrian forces and their allies reclaimed the town earlier this week.
Up to 300 Christians remained in the city after Islamic State captured it last August, head of Syrian Orthodox Church said.
Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II told BBC some were killed for breaking the terms of their “dhimmi contracts”, which demands them to succumb to the rule of Islam whereas others died attempting to escape.
Five Christians are still missing and believed dead, however the rest of the group have rejoined their families through negotiations and payments of ransoms.
Threats have been made to sell the Christian girls among those captured into slavery said the patriarch.
Yet despite the murders his goal of restoring harmony among faiths remained his goal.
“We lived in this situation for centuries, we learned how to respect each other, we learned how to live with each other,” he said.” We can live together again, if we are left alone by others.”
The town is left in ruins as streets and buildings alike – including a 1,500 year-old Catholic monastery – have been destroyed.