Syrian Christian leader urges air strikes against IS in northeast

BEIRUT - A Christian leader in northeastern Syria urged US-led air strikes to help repel an attack by Islamic State militants on villages where they are estimated to have abducted at least 220 Assyrian Christians this week.

Ablahd Kourieh, an Assyrian Christian who is deputy head of a Kurdish-led defence council in northeastern Syria and an official in an Assyrian political party, put the number of Christians abducted by Islamic State at between 350 and 400.

Speaking to Reuters by Skype from the area, he urged the US-led alliance to bomb Islamic State's positions in areas near the town of Tel Tamr in Hasaka province, where he said the group had attacked 16 Assyrian villages this week.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war, has put the number abducted at at least 220.

"We call for bombardment of the terrorists' positions there, and the provision of quality weapons," said Kourieh, who is also an official in the Syriac Union Party.

"Our message to the alliance is to be sincere in their promises. Today is the third day of this attack ... and we haven't seen a single coalition airplane bomb the area," said Kourieh, who is also a member of the Assyrian defence council that was formed in 2011 and is part of the Kurdish-led YPG militia.