‘Islamic State’ kidnaps dozens of women and children from another Syrian minority

Druze protest against persecution by Sunni Muslim extremists. (Picture: www.middleasteye.net )

The war in Syria is not quite over yet. While forces loyal to the secularist dictator Bashar al Assad are now in control of the more populous northern and coastal regions, the Sunni Muslim fanatics of ISIS fight on in more remote parts of the country.

Dozens of Druze women and children in Southern Syria were abducted earlier this month when their villages were attacked by IS. Several men from the area are unaccounted for, but it is not yet clear whether they have been kidnapped. Our parent publication The Daily Stirrer has reported on the cruel treatment handed out to Yazidi women kidnapped by ISIS in northern Syria, and the women of the Druze can expect similar treatment.

The Druze, like the Yazidi, are a small Middle Eastern religious sect whose faith is based on an eclectic system of doctrines including elements of Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism and is characterised by a cohesion and loyalty among its members (at times politically significant) that has enabled them to maintain for centuries the separate identity and close-knit communities of this distinctive faith. The Druze numbered more than 1,000,000 in the early 21st century and live mostly in Syria, and Lebanon, with smaller communities in Israel, Jordan, and abroad. They call themselves muwaḥḥidūn (“monotheists”). Learn more of their history and culture.

In the aftermath of the IS attack (Picture: AP )

At least 36 Druze women and children were taken by terrorists of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) when the militant group’s guerillas attacked their village in the southern province of Sweida, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday.

The British watchdog organisation, which has operatives inside Syria, said the abductions took place on Wednesday during a massive assault by IS that left more than 200 people dead.

“Twenty women and 16 children were kidnapped by ‘Islamic State’ on July 25. Four of them managed to flee to Druze areas, two others died and 30 are still in captivity,” Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Observatory, said.

He told French news agency AFP that 17 men from villages raided by IS were still unaccounted for, but it was unclear if they are captives or dead.Though the attackers carried IS flags the organisation has not yet claimed responsibility for the kidnappings and there are no details regarding them on its propaganda channels.

IS, which declared a self-styled “caliphate” in 2014 across Syria and Iraq, still holds small isolated areas of Syria’s southern desert. That includes parts of Sweida province and pockets in the neighboring province of Daraa.

Sweida is mostly held by the Syrian government and has the highest concentration of the secretive Druze minority. The province has so far been relatively insulated from Syria’s seven-year civil war. Last week’s attacks were the bloodiest ever seen in the province, as well as some of the deadliest waged by IS in Syria.

Though largely defeated in Syria, Iraq and the Kurdish region of eastern Turkey, IS has established footholds in Libya, Afghanistan, Mali and other areas destabilised by western meddling in local affairs.

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