Troops free women, chil­dren held by IS

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - WORLD NEWS - Al­bert Aji

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.

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