00:42 GMT22 April 2021
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    According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, the al-Qaeda linked group al-Nusra has taken five US-trained Syrian rebels hostage.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) The al-Qaeda linked group al-Nusra has taken five US-trained Syrian rebels hostage, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group reported on Tuesday.

    “Jabhat al-Nusra arrested yesterday and this morning 5 people at least claiming that they are from the Division 30 in Qah area near the Sanjak of Alexandretta dragging them to unknown place,” the monitoring group said.

    Division 30 is a group of rebels that the United States has trained or plans to train as part of a program to fight the Islamic State.

    In the past week al-Nusra has killed at least five Division 30 fighters, wounded over a dozen and captured at least 30, according to media reports. Last Friday, al-Nusra issued a statement saying the fighters acted as US agents by helping to carry out airstrikes on jihadist and Islamist groups.

    However, US defense officials dismissed reports last week that newly trained Syrian rebels had been captured or killed by al-Nusra. The rebuttal came as the US State Department said that new Syrian recruits had come under attack.

    The US –led coalition has responded to clashes between al-Nusra and Division 30 with airstrikes.

    The SOHR said at least 25 al-Nusra fighters died in US-led coalition airstrikes and clashes with Division 30 to the north of Aleppo on July 31.

    The US-led coalition against the Islamic State has so far trained and equipped only 60 moderate Syrian rebels. US officials attribute the low number to the difficulty of finding enough recruits to pass strict vetting standards and swear allegiance to fighting the Islamic State.

    Al-Nusra, alongside a number of Syrian Islamist groups, such as the powerful Ahrar al-Sham, fight under the umbrella of the Army of Conquest. The groups are fighting both the Islamic State and Assad regime.

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    Tags:
    hostages, SOHR, al-Qaeda, Syria
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