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Islamist militants release 300 kidnapped Syrian Kurds

Islamist insurgents have released 300 Kurds in the country's north who were taken captive on Sunday. Al Qaeda's Nusra Front is suspected to be behind the kidnapping.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, the captives were released after authorities in the Kurdish-controlled area of Afrin near the Turkish border freed three Islamist rebel fighters who were arrested last week.

Such tit-for-tat kidnappings have recently become a common occurrence amid the chaos of Syria's ongoing civil war.

Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for the Kurdish PYD party in Europe, said the "men were released by the Islamic militant groups who were holding them."

Men and children

Earlier on Monday, Khalil told media that "a group of 300 people on five coaches and a mini-bus coming from Afrin were

kidnapped at a checkpoint

as they went to Aleppo to collect their salaries."

According to a local journalist, while the women in the group were freed, the militants took away men and children.

Al Qaeda affilate

It was not immediately clear which Islamist group was responsible for the abductions. Some sources, however, claimed that al Qaeda's Nusra Front was behind the act, as the militants wield considerable influence in war-ravaged Syria's northwestern Idlib province, where the kidnappings took place.

The al Qaeda affiliate also took control of the provincial capital Idlib last week with the help of other Islamist groups.

ksb/rc (Reuters, AP)

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