Talks fail between Daesh, Syrian regime over Druze captives' release

ASSOCIATED PRESS
ISTANBUL
Published 31.07.2018 16:48
Updated 31.07.2018 16:59

Negotiations between Syrian regime forces and the Daesh terror group for an exchange of prisoners in southern Syria failed to reach an agreement after Daesh imposed new conditions, activists said Tuesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the talks were meant to lead to a deal under which Daesh would release captive civilians — about 30 women and children abducted last week during fighting in the southern province of Sweida.

In return, the regime was to free 150 captured Daesh fighters and open a corridor for 100 besieged Daesh-linked fighters to leave the area of the fighting.

The Observatory said that instead, regime forces resumed airstrikes on Tuesday, targeting some of the besieged Daesh-linked fighters near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The Sweida24, an activist collective, said the talks collapsed after Daesh put new conditions, including withdrawal of Syrian troops from Sweida and a commitment by the province's residents not to take part in any attacks on Daesh in the future.

The collective also listed the names of the 30 civilians abducted last Wednesday, when a wave of Daesh attacks in Sweida and the provincial capital killed more than 200 people.

Those abducted are members of the minority Druze community.

The Druze, followers of an esoteric offshoot of Islam, have kept their own local militias in the area. Daesh views them as apostates. The militants also have a history of abducting members of other religious minorities and keeping women as sex slaves.

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