Pro-regime Druze militia in Syria hangs IS member: monitor

An attack in Syria’s southern Sweida province on July 25, 2018 claimed by the Islamic State group killed more than 250 people, most of them civilians (AFP Photo/Handout)

Beirut (AFP) – Pro-government Druze militiamen hanged a member of the Islamic State group in Syria’s Sweida on Tuesday, a monitor said, just days after the jihadists executed a young hostage from the minority group.

IS abducted more than 30 Druze civilians — women and their children — from a remote village less than two weeks ago, during a brutal onslaught in the southern province.

The hostage situation and beheading has sparked outrage among the Druze, and on Tuesday a militia struck back.

“A member of IS was detained during an attack against a pro-regime position in the Sweida countryside,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

During the assault, an IS suicide bomber killed four government loyalists but other militia members managed to detain a second jihadist fighter.

“Druze militiamen loyal to the regime executed the IS fighter in one of the public squares in Sweida city, by hanging,” said Abdel Rahman.

Sweida 24, a local news outlet, said the IS member had been caught Tuesday morning in a desert area of the province.

Hundreds of people watched the execution, according to both the Observatory and Sweida 24.

Sweida province is the heartland of the country’s Druze minority, which made up around three percent of Syria’s pre-war population — or around 700,000 people.

On July 25, IS waged a series of suicide bombings, shootings, and stabbings that left more than 250 people dead across the province, most of them civilians.

It later emerged the jihadists had also kidnapped more than 30 Druze women and their children during the attack.

While IS claimed responsibility for the violence, it has made no mention of the abductions on its usual channels.

But local sources say the group is using the hostages as a bargaining chip to pressure Syria’s government to release jihadists in its custody.

A top Druze religious official told AFP the negotiations were taking place with Russian mediation, and in coordination with Syria’s regime.

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