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Activists: IS Released 21 Kidnapped Christians

  • VOA News

A Syria watchdog group says 21 Assyrian Christians, elderly men and women, abducted by the Islamic State have been released.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which maintains a network of sources throughout the country, reports some of the kidnapped residents of Tal Koran were freed Sunday.

Local militias say at least 150 people were taken when IS militants attacked villages along the Khabour river in northeast Syria last week, overrunning several predominantly Christian towns.

Meanwhile on Sunday, rebel forces in Aleppo rejected a United Nations peace plan to quell Syria's internal conflict, saying it "falls short an initiative to resolve the humanitarian crisis of our people targeted by the regime's use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs prohibited by the international community."

U.N. envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura is in Damascus for ongoing talks with the Syrian government on "freezing" fighting in the city, which is divided between pro-government forces and opposition fighters.

A newly-formed Aleppo revolutionary commission said it requires an exit plan for President Bashar al-Assad as the basis of any peace deal.

According to a UN statement on Sunday, de Mistura is dispatching a mission to Aleppo "to assess the situation on the ground" and ensure humanitarian aid reaches residents if a cease-fire is reached.

Syria has been in political upheaval since an internal rebellion began in 2011; then, last year, the Islamic State group seized portions of the country's north and east regions, as well as in Iraq, in an effort to establish what it calls an "Islamic caliphate."