IS fighters cornered in pocket of Syria
Dozens of Islamic State group fighters were cornered in a pocket of Syria's Daraa yesterday after losing all other territory there to a Russian-backed regime assault, a monitor said.
To get themselves out, IS was using the release of 30 Druze women and children it kidnapped last week as a bargaining chip, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"There have been talks since yesterday between regime forces and IS to evacuate around 100 IS fighters and their families from the southwest part of Daraa to the Badiya," said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman.
The Badiya refers to the vast desert stretching from central Syria to the eastern border with Iraq, and where IS still holds territory.
"In exchange, IS would release 30 hostages it took from Sweida last week," said Abdel Rahman.
"To put pressure on IS, Russian warplanes carried out strikes on the area today," he added.
IS abducted the Druze women and children from a remote village in Sweida, a province directly east of Daraa, during a deadly rampage on July 25 that left more than 250 people dead in the minority-populated area.
IS claimed responsibility for the killings but has made no mention of the kidnappings on its propaganda channels.
However, a video published by local news outlets appeared to show one of the female hostages demanding Syria's government halt its assault on the IS-held part of Daraa.