Takeover of town is a threat to monks at Mar Elian monastery

ISIS militants have captured Qaryatain, a key Syrian town populated by tens of thousands of Christians and a monastery.

The superior of the town’s Mar Elian monastery, Fr Jacques Mourad, was kidnapped by extremists in May along with a lay Christian, Boutros Hanna Dekermenjian.

Before his abduction Fr Mourad had taken in dozens of families and 100 children who had sought refuge from the fighting.

The town, 65 miles from Palmyra, is home to 40,000 people, both Sunni Muslims and Christians.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS overwhelmed Assad forces after a wave of suicide bombings targeting army checkpoints.