A month after Islamic State (IS) forces captured Qaryatain city in Syria’s Suweida province, the militants have ordered the Christians still living in the city to either convert to Islam, pay the per capita jizya tax required of non-Muslims living under Islamic law, or leave the city within 48 hours.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reliable sources confirmed on 2 Sept. that the IS jihadists have confiscated the Christian residents’ identity papers until they decide between the three choices handed down to them. Reportedly most of the Christian citizens want to leave the city after recovering their IDs.
Between 60 to 110 Christian hostages from Qaryatain, including women and children, are believed to have been transported to the IS fighters’ de facto Raqqa capital after the Syrian army was forced out of the city. No information on their fate has been learned since then.
The 5th century Mar Elian Monastery located on the outskirts of Qaryatain was demolished two weeks later by the jihadis, who declared the ancient monastery containing the relics of St. Elian was being worshipped instead of Allah.