Islamic State (Daesh) militants have kidnapped at least 400 civilians, including women and children, in an assault on Syria’s eastern city of Deir Ezzor, a monitoring group says.
Following its Saturday attack on Deir Ezzor, Daesh “abducted at least 400 civilians from the residents of the al-Baghaliyeh neighborhood it captured, and adjacent areas in the northwest of the city,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Sunday.
Rami Abdel Rahman, the SOHR director, added that all of the abductees were Sunni Muslims, including families of pro-government fighters. He added that they were transported to other areas under Daesh control.
“There is genuine fear for their lives, there is a fear that the group might execute them as it has done before in other areas,” he stated.
Syria’s state news agency SANA said some 300 civilians were killed in the Daesh attack on the city.
Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi condemned the “barbaric massacre,” saying the responsibility for the crimes lies with the supporters of militant groups active the Arab state.
Deir Ezzor has been effectively under siege by Daesh militants since early 2015, when the militants launched an offensive, capturing the city of Palmyra in Homs Province, then cutting off the remaining supply line to the city.
The Daesh siege has led to a severe food crisis in Dayr al-Zawr, where 70 percent of the residents are women and children.
The UN said Saturday that some 20 people died of starvation in the besieged Syrian city last year.
Some 400,000 people in Syria are under siege as a foreign-backed militancy is wreaking havoc across much of the country.
The conflict in Syria, which started in March 2011, has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people and left over one million injured.