As Syrian forces regain territory from the Islamic State with the help of the Russian military, news is emerging of previously unreported atrocities carried out by ISIS.
The latest revelation concerns the killing of 21 Christians in al-Qaryatayn, to the northeast of Damascus.
Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II told the BBC of the reasons ISIS gave for killing the members of the Syrian Orthodox Church. First among them was the allegation that they broke their dhimmi contracts, which established their status as Christians as being subservient to Islam.
There were 300 Christians in the small town, when the Islamic State rolled in eight months ago. Five are still missing said Aphrem, who added that ransoms were paid to ISIS to guarantee the freedom of some of the town’s non-Muslim residents.
Watch Ignatius Aphrem’s elevation to patriarch.
Islamic State lost considerable ground in central Syria in recent weeks, including the historically-important Palmyra and the neighboring modern town Tadmur.