Islamists kidnap 300 Kurds in Syria: Kurdish officials

Islamists kidnap 300 Kurds in Syria: Kurdish officials
Kurdish security control the flow of Syrian refugees trying to cross into northern Iraq from northeastern Syria, on October 23, 2013.

BEIRUT - Islamist fighters on Monday kidnapped some 300 Kurdish civilians at a checkpoint in northwestern Syria, Kurdish officials and a local journalist told AFP.

It was not immediately clear which group was responsible for the kidnapping, though Kurdish officials accused Al-Qaeda's affiliate Al-Nusra Front, which is active in Idlib province.

"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," said Newaf Khalil, a spokesman for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The kidnapping was confirmed by a second official from the PYD, the main Kurdish party in Syria, and a journalist in Afrin, who said the women in the group had been freed but the men and children taken.

"There were 300 people on five buses, and they were kidnapped in Dana, which is under the control of Islamist factions and Al-Nusra Front," said journalist Ali Abdul Rahman.

The PYD officials accused Al-Nusra of being behind the kidnapping, but Abdul Rahman and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said it remained unclear which group was responsible.

The kidnapping occurred in northwestern Idlib province, where Al-Nusra and its allies wield considerable influence.

The Al-Qaeda affiliate helped capture the provincial capital Idlib city on March 28 along with a coalition of other opposition groups.

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