Last Friday’s report of 193 Kurdish civilians kidnapped in Aleppo Province by al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is one of the single largest kidnapping incidents in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Details are now emerging on the identities of the victims.
Previously reported as an attack on a village or villages, locals now say the 193 were mostly students, and that they were kidnapped in several ambushes of groups of students and parents on their way to final exams in Aleppo. They were reportedly taken to a prison in AQI-held Manbij.
Exactly what their status is also remains a subject of speculation, with some reporting a vague email, claiming to be from AQI, saying the students have been taken to a “mandatory” class on Islamic law and would be released upon completion of it.
By contrast, others are saying the students are being held hostage pending a trade with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a major Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria which holds a number of AQI members captured in fighting.