IS frees 2 Christian women held in Syria, other 210 still captive
Syrian activists say the Islamic State group has released two Christian women who had been held along with dozens others since February in northeastern Syria.
IS had kidnapped more than 220 Assyrian Christians in February, after overrunning several farming communities on the southern bank of the Khabur River in Hassakeh province.
Osama Edwards, director of the Assyrian Network for Human Rights, says the women, who are 70 and 75 years old, were released on Tuesday and have now reached the northwestern city of Hassakeh.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday the two were likely released because of their poor health. Some of the captives were released previously.
Edwards says the Islamic State is still holding 210 Assyrian Christians and is demanding $100,000 for each hostage.
An Iraqi military spokesman says Islamic State militants have carried out multiple suicide attacks targeting the army in western Anbar province, killing at least 17 troops.
Brigadier general Saad Maan Ibrahim, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the attacks took place outside the Islamic State-held city of Fallujah late the previous night.
Ibrahim says Islamic State extremists used a sandstorm that engulfed most of Iraq on Tuesday night to unleash the deadly wave of bombings.
The attacks came just hours after the Iraqi government announced the start of a wide-scale operation to recapture areas under the control of IS in western Anbar province.