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Syria war: IS ‘seized women and children’ in Sweida attack

Druze women. File photo

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The Druze are the third-largest religious minority in Syria

Islamic State (IS) militants are holding more than 30 women and children hostage in south-western Syria, a monitor and local media say.

They are thought to have been seized during a wave of deadly IS attacks in Suweida province last week.

The Syrian government controls most of the region but IS militants hold a small amount of territory there.

Pro-government forces recently launched a campaign to retake remaining rebel- and jihadist-held areas in the south.

The abductions were reported by the Suwayda24 website and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, following a series of suicide bombings that targeted an area dominated by the Druze ethnic minority on 25 July. More than 200 people were killed.

The Druze are the third-largest religious minority in Syria and are considered to be heretics by IS jihadists.

The SOHR said that at least 36 women and children had been seized by IS.

Several women have since managed to escape, and two have died, the reports say.

Negotiations to secure their release are under way, according to Suwayda24.

The IS group has so far not spoken about the kidnappings.

Over the past year, IS fighters have lost most of the land they once held across Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

At the peak of the group’s power, about 10 million people lived in IS-controlled areas, but the US military said earlier this year that the jihadists had been ousted from 98% of their former territory.

In Syria, the group is still present in small pockets in the southern provinces of Suweida and Deraa, as well as in parts of the country’s east.

Syria war: IS ‘seized women and children’ in Sweida attack}

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