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Syrian Al Qaeda Affiliate Nusra Front Releases 300 Kidnapped Kurds

The Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front released the estimated 300 Kurds it reportedly kidnapped in northwestern Syria after Kurdish authorities freed three jihadists who had been arrested, according to a Kurdish official and a monitor group.

According to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict in Syria, the al-Nusra Front demanded that Kurdish authorities in the predominantly Kurdish city of Afrin near the Turkish border release three Islamist rebel fighters who were being held at the al-Asayesh prison.

The 300 Kurds were eventually released in exchange for the three detainees.

On Monday, Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for the Kurdish PYD party in Europe, told Reuters that the Kurdish “men were released by the Islamist militant groups who were holding them.”

The Observatory also said the Kurds had been released. However, it mentioned that only about 200 had been seized over two days.

Various media reports note that al Nusra did not claim responsibility for the abduction.

Nevertheless, Idris Nassan, identified by Reuters as an official in the Kobani canton, said the Kurds were kidnapped by the al-Nusra Front.

“They left women and children but they kidnapped 300 men and young people,” he said.

“They captured them in Tuqad village, 20km [12 miles] west of Aleppo and then they moved them to al-Dana town in Idlib province,” added Nassan.

The al-Nusra Front seized the provincial capital of Idlib last month with the help of other militant groups.

Assisted by U.S.-led airstrikes, the Kurds have been combating the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), al Nusra, and other jihadists groups on the ground in Syria.

The kidnapping of the Kurds mirrors tactics used by ISIS, which has kidnapped hundreds of Christians in Syria.

Follow Edwin Mora on Twitter: @EdwinMora83

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