IS kidnapped '36 Druze women, children' during Suweida attacks

IS kidnapped '36 Druze women, children' during Suweida attacks
Last week's attacks were the bloodiest ever in the Suweida province and among the deadliest massacres waged by IS in Syria.
2 min read
30 July, 2018
Syria's Druze live mostly in the remote Suweida province. [Getty]

The Islamic State group kidnapped dozens of Druze women and children when it attacked their villages last week in Syria's southern province of Suweida, a monitor said on Monday.

More than 250 people were killed on Wednesday when IS carried out a string of suicide attacks and shootings in the provincial capital Suweida and villages to the north and east. 

"At least 36 Druze women and children were abducted after the attacks," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor with a network of sources inside Syria.

Four of the women have since managed to escape and another two have died, said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman. 

Another 17 men from the areas targeted by IS were still unaccounted for, but it was unclear if they were also kidnapped, he told AFP.

Both the Observatory and Syrian news outlet Sweida24 said 20 women and 16 children had been kidnapped.

Photos have circulated on social media this week showing the images of at least 14 women held captive by IS following the militants' bloody assault on Suweida.

A video released by IS on Saturday shows the hostages pleading for their lives, warning that they face death unless Damascus agrees to the demands of the militants.

"We call on Bashar Assad and Kinana Hweijeh to release Daesh [IS] prisoners of war and to halt the offensive launched on the Yarmouk [Valley] Basin," a woman who identifies as Swaad Adeeb Abo Ammar told the camera, according to Orient News.

"If they do not do what we ask, Daesh will kill us," she added.

IS declared a self-styled Islamic "caliphate" in 2014 across Syria and Iraq, but has since lost most of that territory.

It still holds small, isolated areas of Syria's remote desert, which includes north-eastern parts of Sweida, as well as pockets in the adjacent province of Daraa and further east near the border with Iraq. 

Backed by Russia, Syrian troops have been waging an assault on an IS-held pocket of Daraa for more than a week. 

Syria's Druze - an offshoot of Ismaili Islam - live mostly in remote Suweida province. Despite the relative calm in the province, there has been unease after the regime pulled security from the area and allowed IS militants from Damascus to vacate to a desert region bordering Suweida.

Last week's attacks were the bloodiest ever in the province and among the deadliest waged by IS in Syria.

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