How far along the negotiations are remains something of a mystery, but 19 Syrian Christians were released by ISIS on Sunday, the first in what locals are hoping will be the recovery of over 200 civilians they captured last week.
Local Christian leaders, along with allied Sunni tribes have been reaching out to ISIS trying to get them to agree to release the Christians, who were taken along the frontline in Hasakeh Province between ISIS and Kurdish territory.
ISIS has generally not targeted the Christian minority within their own territory in Syria, apart from imposing a Jizya tax on them as non-Muslim subjects of a Muslim caliphate.
On the other hand, they’ve regularly fought with Christians outside of their territory, like most rebel groups, accusing them of largely loyal to the Assad government.
Hasakeh Province, along the Iraq border, is the bulk of Syrian Kurdish territory, and ISIS has been keen to expand into that area. The kidnapping of the Christians was likely an effort to prevent them joining the Kurds in resisting their incursion, as ISIS has made similar abductions elsewhere along their front lines, to try to keep potential foes out of important battles.