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California Couple's Family Believed Captured by ISIS

Sharlet David and her husband, Romel, say that 12 family members were among the more than 100 Assyrian Christians captured Monday in Syria.
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A Northern California couple is "praying for mercy" but fearing the worst for family members in Syria believed to be among dozens ripped from their homes by ISIS this week.

Sharlet David and her husband, Romel, said that 12 family members, including Sharlet's brother, have gone missing from their village, NBC affiliate KCRA reported. "What we heard is that it was a sea of black uniforms marching through all the villages, burning down the churches, desecrating the crosses and wreaking havoc," Romel David, of Modesto, told the station.

More than 100 Assyrian Christians were kidnapped by ISIS on Monday, according to the United Nations, as the jihadist militants clashed with Kurdish and Christian militiamen for control of villages in the northeastern province of Hassakeh.

The Davids and their family in Syria identify as Assyrian Christians. Sharlet David said her 59-year-old brother had been living in Modesto as a car salesman but returned to their war-torn homeland two years ago in the hopes of bringing his son and wife to America. The Davids asked that their family members not be identified for fear of retribution.

Romel David told KCRA that some villagers were able to flee, including a small group who contacted his wife's sister in Modesto about the ISIS-led raid. He is worried that his family and other Christians will be pawns in a prisoner swap for ISIS militants, or could suffer the same fate as 21 Egyptian Christians who were beheaded in a video released earlier this month.

"I think obviously the most difficult part is fearing the worst-case scenario of what we’ve witnessed and seen before on news reels," Romel David said, adding that he and his wife are holding out hope for their family's safe release. "We pray," he said. "We pray all the time."



— Erik Ortiz