Troops free women, children held by IS
DAMASCUS, Syria — syrian troops have liberated 19 women and children hostages held by islamic state since July in a military operation in the country’s centre, ending a crisis that has stunned syria’s druze minority, state media reported Thursday.
SANA news agency said in its report that the operation occurred in the Hamima area east of the historic town of Palmyra. it said all islamic state fighters in the area where the hostages were held have been killed.
The suwayda 24 activist collective quoted local officials as saying the women and children held by islamic state have all been freed.
The 19 women and children were among 30 people kidnapped by islamic state in the southern province of sweida on July 25 when they carried out a raid that left at least 216 people dead.
The rare attacks in sweida, populated mainly by syria’s minority druze, came amid a government offensive elsewhere in the country’s south. The co-ordinated attacks across the province, which included several suicide bombings, shattered the calm of a region that had been largely spared from the worst of the violence of syria’s seven-year long civil war.
“We are living the joy of victory in syria,” druze cleric sheikh Kameel Nasr told syrian state Tv. “it is regrettable to see the brutality of daesh” he added, using an arabic term to refer to islamic state.
since July, one woman died in islamic state custody while another was shot dead by the extremists. in august, a 19-yearold man was also killed in detention.
six other hostages, two women and four children, were freed in an exchange with the government last month. Negotiations were expected to free the remaining hostages but after the talks failed, syrian troops launched a broad offensive against islamic state in southern syria.
elsewhere in syria, opposition activists and paramedics reported that two blasts in rebel-held parts of northern syria have inflicted casualties.
The britain-based syrian observatory for human rights said the first explosion occurred in the northern town of azaz wounding six children while the opposition’s syrian Civil defence said four were wounded including three children.