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Efforts under way to negotiate release of more than kidnapped 220 Syrian Christians

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An Assyrian woman, that fled the unrest in Hasakeh's Tal Tamer district, rests at a house where she has taken refuge in the northeastern city of Qamishl. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

An Assyrian woman, that fled the unrest in Hasakeh's Tal Tamer district, rests at a house where she has taken refuge in the northeastern city of Qamishl. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

AFP/Getty Images

An Assyrian woman, that fled the unrest in Hasakeh's Tal Tamer district, rests at a house where she has taken refuge in the northeastern city of Qamishl. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Efforts are under way to try to negotiate the release of more than 220 Syrian Christians who were kidnapped last week by the Islamic State group, activists said.

Osama Edward, director of the Assyrian Network for Human Rights in Syria, and Younan Talia, a senior official in the Assyrian Democratic Organisation, said Sunni tribal sheikhs are trying to establish contact with IS.

Mr Talia said there had been no response yet from the militants.

IS fighters took the captives last week after sweeping through several villages in Syria's north-eastern Hassakeh province. The fate of those kidnapped, almost all of them Assyrian Christians, remains unclear.

The abductions have compounded fears among religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, where IS has repeatedly targeted minorities.

"We're trying to contact any party that might help. We're working through our friends the tribal sheikhs," said Mr Talia. "Some friends of Daesh are trying to send messages."

Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

The Assyrians are indigenous Christian people who trace their roots back to the ancient Mesopotamians.

During the militants' bloody campaign in Syria and Iraq, where they have declared a self-styled caliphate, minorities have been repeatedly targeted and killed, driven from their homes, had their women enslaved and places of worship destroyed.

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