Syrian Christian families from the ancient town of Sadad, southeast of Homs city, have fled into government-held areas as Islamic State (ISIS) militants make further gains after taking the nearby town of Maheen, a local reporter said.
With thousands of women and children already fleeing the town, local men have remained behind to fight the jihadists, the World Tribune and Christian Post reported.
"Around 60 percent of the 12,000 residents, particularly the women and children, have fled to other Christian villages in the province, like Fayruza and Yazdal," the Tribune quotes Sadad’s mayor, Suleiman Khalil, as saying. "The men are staying behind to defend the town."
Three weeks ago, Syrian regime forces took Maheen, about 25 kilometers northwest of Sadad, a victory that lasted no more than a few weeks before turning into a new setback for regime and its allies, led by Russian air forces, who have been unsuccessful in defeating ISIS fighters despite more that 3,000 air strikes in 11 weeks.
The Syrian regime won control of the Christian town from rebel forces back in October 2013, but danger now looms once again for Sadad as ISIS forces march closer.
Sotoro, a Syrian Christian militia group, have sent 250 fighters to help the town repel the Islamist extremists. Syrian soldiers are reported to be on standby outside Sadad, with allied Russian troops stationed between the Christian town and Maheen.
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.