Ex-IS cap­tive re­calls cap­tiv­ity, see­ing her son killed

Imperial Valley Press - - SPORTS -

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

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

As her or­deal was about to end, Na­jwa Abu Am­mar’s 8-year-old was shot by IS mil­i­tants dur­ing an op­er­a­tion by the Syr­ian mil­i­tary to lib­er­ate the hostages held since July. Her son 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 told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

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

It was one of the dead­li­est IS at­tacks in months, tar­get­ing the Sweida prov­ince which has been spared from the worst of the vi­o­lence of Syria’s sev­enyear-long civil war.

On Thurs­day Syr­ian state me­dia re­ported that troops, af­ter months of ne­go­ti­a­tions and mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions, lib­er­ated 19 women and chil­dren held by IS 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 ear­lier died in cus­tody and an­other was shot dead by the ex­trem­ists as they pressed for de­mands. In Au­gust, a 19-year-old 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 launched a broad of­fen­sive against IS in south­ern Syria.

The rare at­tacks in the prov­ince, pop­u­lated mainly by Syria’s mi­nor­ity Druze, had in­cluded sev­eral sui­cide bomb­ings by the ex­trem­ists, which dev­as­tated the com­mu­nity and shat­tered the re­gion’s calm.

Nashaat Abu Am­mar, Na­jwa’s hus­band, said his 8-year-old son Raafat was shot dead by the ex­trem­ists dur­ing the Syr­ian army raid to free the hostages.

“They shot him in his mother’s lap,” Abu Am­mar told The As­so­ci­ated Press by phone from Sweida, his voice crack­ing with emo­tion.

He only learned of his son’s killing af­ter the for­mer hostages ar­rived in Sweida.

Only hours be­fore, Abu Am­mar had told the AP: “My hap­pi­ness is huge.”

His joy was crushed hours later when the hostages ar­rived in Sweida. Among them was the body of Raafat and his 13-year-old cousin. His wife ap­peared very frail, he said, as the hostages were barely be­ing fed.

“Some­times they fed us once ev­ery two days and other times twice ev­ery day,” Na­jwa said, adding that it was mostly just olive oil, thyme and jam.

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

She said they didn’t know of the killed hostages un­til they were lib­er­ated.

“They held us first in a camp then a cave and kept mov­ing us from one place to the other,” she said. “At one point we were in a car for 12 hours and we didn’t know where we were head­ing.”

SANA VIA AP

In this photo re­leased by the Syr­ian of­fi­cial news agency SANA, women and chil­dren who were res­cued from the Is­lamic State group in the Hamima area east of the his­toric town of Palmyra, af­ter they ar­rived to the south­ern prov­ince of Sweida, Syria, on Fri­day.

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