IS frees six Syria Druze women, children after three-month ordeal

October 20, 2018 | By | Reply More

The Islamic State group has released two women and four children among 27 surviving Druze hostages it seized during a deadly July attack on the minority community’s heartland in southern Syria.

womenState television broadcast footage of the six arriving in the city of Sweida on Saturday, joyful at being reunited with their families but haggard after their three-month ordeal.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said their release was the first part of a deal that would see at least 60 IS prisoners released in exchange and a $27 million ransom paid.

The jihadists abducted around 30 people — mostly women and children — from Sweida province in late July during the deadliest attack on Syria’s Druze community of the seven-year civil war.

As negotiations for their release dragged on, families led a series of protests outside government offices in Sweida to demand more be done.

“I cannot describe my joy,” Rasmia Abu Amar told state television after being reunited with her husband.

“But it is incomplete — my son has not yet been released,” she said, her hair covered by a white headscarf.

A second woman appeared with her four children, their clothes still dirty from their long captivity and her sons with their heads shaved.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told  that the six were freed on Friday night and that further hostage releases were expected “in the next few days or hours”.

He said that in return for the release of all of the hostages, the Syrian government had agreed to free 60 Islamic State group prisoners and pay a ransom of $27 million.

“Nine IS women prisoners held by the regime have already been handed over to the group along with seven children,” Abdel Rahman said.

During the coordinated assaults on July 25, IS carried out suicide bombings, shootings and stabbings that left more than 250 people dead, most of them civilians.

Sweida province is the heartland of the country’s Druze minority, which made up around three percent of Syria’s pre-war population — or around 700,000 people.

Followers of a secretive offshoot of Islam, the Druze are considered heretics by the Sunni extremists of IS.

The jihadists executed a 19-year-old male student among the hostages in August and then a 25-year-old woman in early October. IS said a 65-year-old woman being held by the group also died from illness.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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