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IS frees 6 hostages in exchange with Syrian govt

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Beirut, Oct 20 (AP) - The Islamic State group early Saturday released two women and four children they had been holding since July in the first part of an exchange with the Syrian government that will set free dozens of women related to members of the extremist group, opposition activists said.
The women and children were among 30 people kidnapped by IS in the southern province of Sweida on July 25 when they carried out a raid that left at least 216 people dead. One woman died in IS custody while another was shot dead. In August, a 19-year-old man was also killed while in detention.
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the women and children were the first batch of the exchange, adding that more will follow. The Observatory said the government in return will release 60 women held by authorities and a $27 million ransom.
The Suwayda 24 activist collective posted a picture of a woman and four children who were released adding that authorities freed 17 wives of IS fighters and eight of their children. It added that 21 women and children still being held by IS will be set free in the coming days.
Suwayda 24 identified the released women as Rasmiya Abu Ammar and Abeer Shalgheen and her four children.
The July 25 attack on the southern city of Sweida and nearby villages, which are inhabited by members of the minority Druze community, was one of the deadliest by the extremists since they lost most of the land they once held in Syria and Iraq.
State news agency SANA quoted the governor of Sweida Amer Ashi as saying that the six hostages were freed as a result of the tight siege imposed by Syrian troops on the extremists in the desert area outside the city of Sweida. He said that more hostages will be freed soon.