EX-IS hostage re­counts cap­tiv­ity, son’s mur­der

5 dead, 19 re­leased af­ter July ab­duc­tion by Is­lamic State mil­i­tants

The Dallas Morning News - - World - Al­bert Aji, The As­so­ci­ated Press

DA­M­AS­CUS, Syria — A Syr­ian woman lib­er­ated from cap­tiv­ity said Fri­day that Is­lamic State mil­i­tants held her and more than two dozen other women and chil­dren in dif­fer­ent hide­outs for nearly three months, once keep­ing them in mov­ing cars for more than 12 hours with­out know­ing where they were headed.

The woman, Na­jwa Abu Am­mar, from south­ern Sweida prov­ince, said the mil­i­tants didn’t tor­ture them, but fed them only spo­rad­i­cally and in­sulted and beat the chil­dren.

As her or­deal was about to end, Abu Am­mar’s 8­year­old son, Rafaat, was shot by the mil­i­tants dur­ing an op­er­a­tion by the Syr­ian mil­i­tary to lib­er­ate the hostages, held since July. Rafaat died in her arms.

His cousin Qusay, 13, was also shot, and bled for five hours be­fore he died.

“I am very sad for los­ing my son and his cousin Qusay,” she said in an in­ter­view.

Abu Am­mar was cap­tured with her two sons and daugh­ter and 26 oth­ers on July 25, when mil­i­tants am­bushed res­i­dents and went on a killing ram­page that left at least 216 peo­ple dead.

It was one of the dead­li­est Is­lamic State at­tacks in months, tar­get­ing Sweida prov­ince, which had been spared from the worst vi­o­lence of Syria’s seven­year war.

Syr­ian state me­dia re­ported Thurs­day that gov­ern­ment troops, af­ter months of ne­go­ti­a­tions and mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions, lib­er­ated 19 women and chil­dren held by the Is­lamic State in cen­tral Syria, trig­ger­ing cel­e­bra­tions in Sweida. News of the two chil­dren’s killing came out af­ter the hostages ar­rived in Sweida.

One woman had died in cus­tody, and an­other was shot dead by the ex­trem­ists as they pressed for de­mands. In Au­gust, a 19­year­old man was also killed in de­ten­tion.

Six other hostages, two women and four chil­dren, were freed in an ex­change with the gov­ern­ment in Oc­to­ber. Ne­go­ti­a­tions were ex­pected to free the re­main­ing hostages, but the talks failed, and Syr­ian troops then launched a broad of­fen­sive against the Is­lamic State in south­ern Syria.

Abu Am­mar’s hus­band, Nashaat Abu Am­mar, only learned of his son’s killing af­ter the for­mer hostages ar­rived in Sweida.

“They shot him in his mother’s lap,” he said by phone from Sweida, his voice crack­ing with emo­tion.

He said his wife ap­peared very frail, he said.

“Some­times they fed us once ev­ery two days and other times twice ev­ery day,” Na­jwa Abu Am­mar said, adding that they were given just olive oil, thyme and jam.

“They didn’t tor­ture us, but they in­sulted the chil­dren and beat them,” she said, speak­ing from her home in the vil­lage, Shibki. “Then they started threat­en­ing to kill us.”

Syr­ian Arab News Agency

A group of Druze women and chil­dren, ab­ducted in July from Sweida by the Is­lamic State group, were wel­comed by rel­a­tives upon their ar­rival in their home­town in the prov­ince of Sweida. Pic­tures of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al­as­sad and his late fa­ther were held up.

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