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27 hostages held by Daesh in south Syria, says HRW
August 26, 2018
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BEIRUT: At least 27 people are being held by the Daesh group in southern Syria, Human Rights Watch said on Saturday as it deplored the hostage-taking as a “war crime.”

The group of mostly women and children were abducted by Daesh during a massive July 25 assault on the Druze community in Sweida, in which the militants killed more than 250 people.

They are being held by Daesh to use as leverage in negotiations with the Syrian government and its ally Russia, according to HRW.

“Hostage-taking is a war crime,” the rights group said.

“Civilian lives should not be used as bargaining chips,” said its deputy Middle East director Lama Fakih.

Of more than 30 people taken hostage in the July offensive, at least two have since died.

A 19-year-old male student was beheaded and a video circulated of the killing, which was not released on the militants’ usual channels.

Later in August a 65-year-old woman died, with Daesh reporting she had been unwell.

Additionally, two women were able to escape after being abducted from their home, a family member told HRW.

Villagers provided the names of at least 27 people who remain in Daesh captivity, with children as young as seven among them, according to activists in Sweida province.

The province is the heartland of Syria’s Druze minority.

Daesh is seeking the release of militants captured by the government in the neighbouring province of Daraa, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier this month.

The militants currently hold less than three percent of Syria, after losing swathes of territory to government forces backed by Russian firepower.

Agence France-Presse

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