Islamic State (IS) militants are holding more than 30 women and children hostage in south-western Syria, a monitor and local media say.
They are believed to have been seized in last week’s IS attacks that targeted an area dominated by the Druze ethnic minority in the Suweida region.
At least 215 people died in a series of suicide bombings.
The Syrian government controls most of the region, but IS militants hold a small track of territory there.
Syria’s army, backed by Russia, has recently launched a campaign to retake the remaining jihadist- and rebel-held areas.
The abductions were reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, and the Suwayda24 website.
The SOHR said that at least 36 women and children had been seized by IS.
Several women have since managed to escape, and two have died, the reports say.
The IS group has so far not spoken about the kidnappings.
It is also not clear whether negotiations are under way to secure the hostages’ release.
The Druze are the third-largest religious minority in Syria and are considered by IS jihadists as heretics.
Over the past year, IS fighters have lost most of the land they once held across Syria and neighbouring Iraq.
At the peak of the group’s power, around 10 million people lived in IS-controlled areas, but the US military said earlier this year that the jihadists had been ousted from 98% of their former territory.
In Syria, the group is still present in small pockets in the southern provinces of Suweida and Deraa, as well as parts of the country’s east.
Source : www.bbc.com