• Syria, November 10, 2018

    The Russian military played a key role in liberating the 20+ civilians that were held hostage by the Islamic State (IS) in southeastern Syria. Speaking to Al-Masdar News, a Syrian Army source said that the Russian forces helped locate the hostages using their military technology. The source said that the Russian military provided this information to the Syrian army and planned out their operation that led to the liberation of the kidnapped civilians. The Russian military was also present during the operation and later provided necessary aid to the freed civilians. The Russian military is also playing an integral role in the Syrian army’s ongoing operation to eliminate the last IS terrorists in the Al-Safa region of Al-Sweida. According to a source in Damascus, the Russian military sent their Special Forces to the Al-Safa front this past week; they are now embedded with the Syrian army near the front lines. TR: It is likely that the Syrian regime is bringing the Russian military into the hostage release claims in order to give the story credibility and contradict reports that atheir release followed a ransom payment and prisoners exchange deal. (almasdarnews.com, 11 November 2018)

  • Syria, October 20, 2018

    Islamic State militants has released two Druze women and four children, who were among 27 people kidnapped during the July 25 in attacks on the city of Sweida and nearby villages in the southern Sweida province. According to the United Kingdom based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights the release of the first batch of hostages comes as part of a deal between the Syrian government and Islamic State. The Syrian government, in return, will release 60 women held by authorities and pay a ransom of US$27 million dollars.  Sweida Governor Amer al-Ashi was quoted by the official Syrian news agency SANA that the release of the six abductees came due to the siege imposed on Islamic State by the Syrian armed forces on Sweida and added that the other abductees will be freed soon.  (haaretz.com, 20 October 2018)

  • Syria, October 04, 2018

    Islamic State militants released an unverified video on social media platforms, showing the execution of one of the Druze female hostages kidnapped during an attack on the town ion July. In the clip the militants has threatened to execute more than two dozen women and children kidnapped during the same attack, if the Assad government doesn’t halt a months long offensive against its fighters in the area by Friday, October 6. The video triggered demonstrations in the province of Sweida as people demanding that the government will do more to rescue the hostages. Some protesters shut down the headquarters of the provincial governor, according to residents. (wsj.com, 4 October 2018)

  • Syria, September 11, 2018

    Around 30 Druze forlorn-looking women and children held captive by Islamic State (IS) militants since July, have appeared in a 47 seconds long video clip captives pleaded to be saved from the Islamic State (IS) group in a recent video huddled on the floor in a room with peeling paint. The clip was published on a Facebook page "Page for Sweida hostages" created to support those kidnapped. The page creators said it had received the video from IS itself. One of the women in the video speaks to the camera to identify the date of recording of the clip as Tuesday 11 September. She then goes on to say that while the hostages were all well and unharmed, they are being forgotten. The Facebook page for Sweida hostages said that the video was published at the behest of a committee that conducts negotiations for the hostages’ release, and that five rounds of negotiations had failed so far. It has published several clips of the hostages in the past few months, which were allegedly sent to relatives of the captives. (middleeasteye.net, 13 September 2018)

  • Syria, August 05, 2018

    According to local media reports and the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, members of the Islamic State (IS) has executed one of the hostages taken from the mainly Druze sect inhabited city of Sweida during the circulated by IS 25 July attack. Images of the execution of 19-year-old Muhannad Dhouqan Abu Ammar had circulated on social media. There have been negotiations between Druze officials and the IS for the hostages’ release. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) at least 16 children aged between seven and 15 years old are among the kidnapped civilians. (middleeastmonitor.com, 5 August 2018 & kurdistan24.net, 26 August 2018)

  • Syria, July 31, 2018

    According to the London based, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, dozens of Islamic State (IS) fighters who are cornered in a pocket outside the city of Daraa after the group lost all other territory there to a Russian-backed regime assault are using the release of 30 Druze women and children they kidnapped on 25 July as a bargaining chip for evacuation. According to the organization talks between regime forces and IS to evacuate around 100 fighters and their families from the southwest part of Daraa to the Badiya started on 30 July. A video published by local news outlets appeared to show one of the female hostages demanding Syria’s government halt its assault on the IS-held part of Daraa. The evacuation deal would not be the first between IS and Syrian government representatives. In May, jihadists were bussed out of the Yarmuk camp, their last area of control in Damascus, paving the way for the government’s full recapture of the capital. IS fighters from Yarmuk were transferred to the Badiya, and several local outlets alleged those relocated jihadists carried out the Sweida attacks. (timesofisrael.com, 31 July 2018)

  • Syria, July 25, 2018

    Islamic State (IS) has released photos of 14 women kidnapped from their homes  during the group coordinated attack on the city of As Suwaida and nearby villages of al-Matouna, Douma and Tima. According to military source in the province, the terrorist group sent text messages to the families of the kidnapped civilians, demanding undisclosed ransom and threatened to burn alive all of the captives. The source said that the terrorists sent the family members of the kidnapped civilians text messages via WhatsApp a day after the coordinated attacks. At least 215 people were killed in the attack and over 180 wounded. Social media activists launched hashtag “Kidnapped women of As Suwaida”, urging action to rescue them. News circulated after the attack reported that at least 17 to 20 people, most of who were women and children were kidnapped. The IS lost almost all the territory it held in Syria in 2017 in separate offensives by the Russian-backed army and a U.S.-backed militia alliance. The militant group then launched insurgency operations from its pockets in the desert areas. (almasdarnews.com, 28 July 2018 & iraqinews.com, 28 July 2018)