السبت , يونيو 13 2020

'Hundreds' of Syrian Kurds kidnapped

A general view of the Kurdish city of Afrin, in Aleppo's countryside on 18 March 2015

The men were seized from a convoy of buses at a checkpoint near the town of Afrin

An Islamist rebel group has kidnapped some 300 Kurdish men in northwest Syria.

Reports say the men were seized from buses travelling from the town of Afrin to the city of Aleppo.

It is still not clear which rebel group is responsible but officials from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) have blamed Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam).

The kidnappers have demanded the release of rebel members held by Kurds.

Reports said the Kurdish hostages were being held in a town in Idlib province and had been allowed to keep their mobile phones.

One of the men had told the PYD that they would not be harmed and would be freed if three rebels, detained by the Kurds in Afrin, were released.

Map showing territorial control in the Syrian conflict

The men had been taken from a convoy of buses forced to stop at a checkpoint on the way to Aleppo. A group of women and children were said to have been allowed to go free.

The PYD implicated the Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) in the kidnapping but it is only one of a number of Islamic rebel factions operating in the area.

The al-Nusra Front is active in the region. It helped capture the city of Idlib from government forces at the end of March.

Idlib is only the second provincial centre to fall into rebel hands, after Raqqa was seized by Islamic State (IS).

Syria’s bloody conflict, which has entered its fifth year, has claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Syrians.

The battle between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, rebels opposed to his rule and jihadist militants from IS has driven more than 11 million people from their homes.

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