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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Syrian army frees 19 Druze women and children held by ISIS

The hostages were abducted by ISIS in Sweida, a city in the southwest of Syria, in July, the state-run SANA reports.

Members of the Druze community hold Syrian and Druze flags. EPA
Members of the Druze community hold Syrian and Druze flags. EPA

The Syrian Army has freed 19 women and children from ISIS, Syrian State Media says.

The hostages were abducted by ISIS in Sweida, a city in the southwest of Syria, in July, the state-run SANA reports.

The militant group, which lost most of its territory in Syria last year, seized around 27 people when it rampaged through Sweida from a desert enclave outside the city, killing more than 200 people and detonating suicide vests.

The hostages were freed in an area northeast of the desert city of Palmyra after the army fought with ISIS militants in what state television described as "a precise operation". It did not say when the fighting took place.

Sweida, which is under state rule, has a mainly Druze religious community. Druze authorities and ISIS have held negotiations for the release of the hostages.

Last month, ISIS released six of the Druze hostages seized in July in a prisoner swap and $27 million ransom.

Two of the hostages were executed by ISIS. ISIS executed a 19-year-old male student in August and a 25-year-old female captive in early October. The group said a 65-year-old female captive also died after becoming ill.

Families of the abducted led a series of protests outside government offices in Sweida to demand more should be done.

In July, ISIS killed more than 200 people and took 27 hostages in Sweida, one of the biggest single massacres in the war.

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