Islamic State extremists are advancing to the Christian town of Sadad after capturing the town of Maheen in the central Homs Province on Sunday. Fierce fighting has been reported in Sadad, home to an estimated 15,000 Syriac Orthodox Christians.
The ISIS/ISIL terror group began their offensive into Maheen on Saturday with two suicide bombers that killed or injured at least 50 government soldiers. The blasts forced soldiers loyal to the government to withdraw from Maheen, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Since the fall of Maheen, the terrorist group has focused its attention to Sadad, which has 14 churches and one monastery.
In a report, BBC News said that the fall of Maheen and the ISIS/ISIL advance into Sadad came after Russia has joined the U.S.-led coalition in bombing strategic Islamic terrorist positions in Syria. The terror group has captured a large swathe of lands across Syria and Iraq and is trying to expand their strongholds toward Homs in the past several months.
Christian and other religious minorities were heavily persecuted by the Islamic jihadists and thousands of them were killed and beheaded across the towns captured by the group. After the fall of Qaryatian to ISIS/ISIL hands, the terror group told Christians to follow 11 demands of face death.
The11 demands imposes payment of the Ismalic jizya tax imposed on non-Muslims, and prohibited the practice of non-Muslim religions, including the establishment of churches, the displaying of crosses, making Muslims hear Christian prayers or rituals of worship, the hiding of spies, offending Islamic religious beliefs, the carrying of weapons, the sale of pork or wine to Muslims, and failing to dress modestly.
A separate report by Reuters has claimed that ISIS/ISIL jihadists continue to gain some grounds despite Russia's air strikes and the announcement of President Barack Obama to send special operations troops into Syria to advise troops on the group to stop the Islamic terrorists from advancing.
As this developed, the Syrian Democratic Forces army, which has been fighting ISIS/ISIL across the country, announced on Saturday that it will be intensifying its campaign to liberate the southern countryside of al- Hasakah that has fallen under the terror group's hands.
"Today, we declare the first step of our military action within a plan of liberating the whole Syria from the terrorist gangs. On this base, we declare the start of a campaign to liberate the southern countryside of al- Hasakah with the participation of all factions of Syrian Democratic Forces and the support of U.S.-led coalition warplanes," the group's General Command said in a statement.
"Our campaign is going to continue until liberating all the occupied areas in al- Hasakah by terrorist organization of Daesh and until restoring security and stability to the area," it added.
It also urged civilians to get away from IS positions, warning them that jihadists are trying to use people as human shields to protect themselves from the ongoing airstrikes.
The four-year-old civil war has killed nearly to 250,000 people and displaced an estimated 11 million people or half of Syria's population.