Move is seen as a "small sign of hope"
In what is being seen as a "small sign of hope," 22 elderly Assyrian Christians were released from captivity by the Islamic State group in Syria, Reuters reported.
ISIS had abducted several hundred people as it swept through Christians villages of the Khabour River valley in northeastern Syria in February. A few were previously released, but the jihadist group continues to hold more than 150.
Rami Abdulrahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the latest group was released after a ransom was paid but the head of a Syrian Assyrian group in Sweden, Afram Yakoub, denied it.
"Some have health issues, so we believe they released them because of health issues and because they are old," Yakoub, chairman of the Assyrian Federation of Sweden, told Reuters by telephone.
"The release is a small sign of hope. It gives us some hope that some day those remaining will be released."