Around 250 Syrian civilians are feared kidnapped after an attack by the Islamic State jihadist group on a cement factory east of Damascus, residents told AFP on Thursday.
“We haven’t been able to reach our family members since noon on Monday after an attack by Daesh on the factory,” said a resident of the town of Dmeir, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Damascus, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
“We have no information about where they are,” the resident added.
An administrator at the plant said 250 employees had been unreachable since Monday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said “dozens” of staff were believed to have been seized by IS from the cement factory and taken to an unknown location.
The Badiyah cement factory lies outside Dmeir, which has seen fierce fighting in recent days as government forces have shelled IS positions inside the town.
The Observatory said 18 civilians were killed in government shelling of the town.
A Syrian security source told AFP that IS fighters had also tried to seize the nearby Dmeir airbase and power plant from the government but had failed.