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ISIS-affiliated Jihadists Using Druze Hostages As Bargaining Chip In Syria

Dozens of Islamic State-affiliated terrorists in the southern Syrian city of Darra are using 30 kidnapped Druze women and children as trade bait, reportedly offering to release the civilians in exchange for safe passage out of the newly-secured regime stronghold. The hostages were taken last week during an ISIS-led massacre of more than 250 Druze in the town of Suwayda and its surroundings; this, amid a now-completed Syrian army offensive to retake the entire region along the Golan Heights border with Israel. “There have been talks between regime forces and ISIS to evacuate around 100 fighters and their families from the southwest part of Daraa to the Badiya,” according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group. The Badiya is a vast desert area stretching from central Syria to the eastern border with Iraq where ISIS still controls territory. There is, in fact, precedent for such a deal, with ISIS jihadists in May having been evacuated from the Yarmouk camp—at the time their last remaining stronghold near Damascus—which paved the way for the regime’s full recapture of the capital.