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Europeans among hundreds of Islamic State hostages seized in Syria

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By Alice Cuddy  & Pascale Davies  with Reuters
Europeans among hundreds of Islamic State hostages seized in Syria
Copyright  REUTERS

European nationals are among hundreds of hostages seized by the Islamic State militant group in Syria, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Speaking in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Thursday, Putin said 700 hostages, including US and European nationals, were seized in part of Syria controlled by US-backed forces, and that there had been an ultimatum promising to execute 10 people every day.

He did not specify what the militants' demands were.

Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the UK-based SOHR, told Euronews that the number of hostages was actually around 300.

He said they were taken last week from a camp near the city of Hajin, east of Deir el-Zour, and were brought to territory controlled by the militant group.

“The Islamic State was controlling the camp for three hours and took the people hostage from the camp to inside the ISIS area,” he said.

“Inside the camp some people who were refugees and pro-ISIS were helping ISIS to control the camp for three hours and to take the people hostage."

Abdulrahman told Euronews that Belgian and French nationals were among the hostages.

No one at Belgium's foreign office was available for comment when contacted by Euronews and the French foreign office said it would respond to Euronews' request to comment shortly.

Abdulrahman added that around 90 women, many of whom had defected from ISIS, were among those taken hostage as well as children.

Abdulrahman said SOHR had received reports that ISIS had split the women, children and men on Wednesday, and was concerned about the safety of the hostages.

“Their lives are in a very dangerous situation”, he said, adding that there had been no confirmed reports of any fatalities as of Thursday afternoon.