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Hard-line Islamist groups active in Syria are holding hundreds of people captive, largely for financial gain or to stoke fear within the Syrian populace.However, the unexpected release of two prominent Spanish reporters late last month has fueled hope that the Al-Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) may be willing to negotiate for high-value hostages, although the fate of Syrian captives is less clear.The activist, who declined to be identified, said the reporters had initially been kept at an ISIS headquarters in an Aleppo children's hospital. But when a number of rebel groups attacked ISIS fighters in the city at the beginning of January, it forced the group to move its most valuable prisoners to Raqqa, the activist said. Speaking to The Daily Star, an activist with the Aleppo Media Center said that ISIS ranks the importance of its captives, deeming foreign journalists to be the most useful assets, followed by fighters from rival groups, and finally local activists and campaigners.However, it is not in ISIS' interest to release activists, many of whom have been involved in informing the public about the brutality of extremist groups.Of the several hundred people believed to be detained by ISIS, the vast majority are local activists, the VDC's spokesperson Bassam al-Ahmad told The Daily Star.
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