Middle East

Syria jihadists kidnap 50 Kurds: activists

Kurdish fighters of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) man a checkpoint in Tell Tamer town in Hasaka, November 30, 2013. Picture taken November 30, 2013. REUTERS/Rodi Said

BEIRUT: Jihadists in northern Syria have kidnapped more than 50 Kurds in the past three days, in the second such case of mass hostage-taking since July, a monitoring group said Thursday.

The kidnappings come months into major battles for control of several parts of northern Syria that have pitted Kurdish fighters against jihadists, chiefly the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"In the past three days, ISIL has kidnapped at least 51 Kurds in the towns of Minbej and Jarablus," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Among the hostages were nine children and a woman, said the Britain-based group, adding that there was no information on where they had been taken.

Minbej and Jarablus are located in Aleppo province, which is home to a Kurdish minority.

The kidnappings come weeks after Kurdish fighters further east, in majority Kurdish areas, expelled jihadists after battles that lasted several months.

In response, the jihadists have imposed a siege on Kurdish areas of Aleppo, where Kurdish fighters are weaker, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

In July, ISIL kidnapped some 200 Kurdish civilians from the Kurdish towns of Tal Aran and Tal Hassel also in Aleppo province. Only a few of those hostages have since been released, the Observatory says.





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