Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the ISIS terrorist group took nearly 700 hostages, including American citizens, in Syria. However, U.S. military officials have cast doubts on his claims.
Putin said the terrorist fighters seized the hostages south of the Euphrates River and issued an ultimatum promising to execute 10 people every day, Reuters reported.
In an address at Sochi, the Russian leader said the hostages also included European nationals. He didn’t say what demands the militants had made.
The TASS news agency reported Oct. 17, that ISIS had captured around 700 hostages in Syria’s Deir-al Zor province after attacking a refugee camp near an area controlled by U.S.-backed forces on Oct. 13, according to Reuters. The militants also kidnapped 130 families and took them to Hajin.
“Islamic State terrorists have delivered ultimatums and made certain demands, threatening to shoot ten people every day,” Putin said, according to News.com.au. “This is just horrible, it is a catastrophe. Some U.S. and European citizens are among the hostages.”
“Everyone is silent as if nothing has happened,” he also stated. News.com.au reported that photos emerged and appeared to show an attack in the region where the alleged hostage situation has unfolded. The report said that photos show ISIS militants holding the one-finger salute as they grabbed the hair of victims.
Women and children are believed to be among the captured civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based war monitoring group, also reported on the situation, saying that ISIS “separated the women away from the children and men, along with subjecting all of them to questioning and investigation, amid fears over their lives of carrying out mass or individual executions against them by the organization after it executed thousands of people in the past years.”
The Observatory, citing “reliable sources,” said there were “90 female abductees” that “include a number of women of different non-Syrian nationalities, who were kidnapped while they were in Al-Bahra Camp.”
There was no mention of European or American hostages in the Observatory’s report on the incident.
US Military Has Doubts
An American commander said that Putin’s claims of hostages may not be accurate
“While we have confirmed that there was an attack on an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp near (Deir-al Zor) last week, we have no information supporting the large number of hostages alleged by President Putin and we are skeptical of its accuracy,” Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, told Reuters in a statement.
“We are also unaware of any U.S. nationals located in that camp,” Robertson added.