EX-IS hostage recounts captivity, son’s murder
5 dead, 19 released after July abduction by Islamic State militants
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.”
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.