The Islamic State group has released two women and four children among 27 surviving Druze hostages it seized during a deadly July attack on the minority community’s heartland in southern Syria.
State television broadcast footage of the six arriving in the city of Sweida on Saturday, joyful at being reunited with their families but haggard after their three-month ordeal.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said their release was the first part of a deal that would see at least 60 ISIS prisoners released in exchange and a $27 million ransom paid.
The jihadists abducted around 30 people — mostly women and children — from Sweida province in late July during the deadliest attack on Syria’s Druze community of the seven-year civil war.
“I cannot describe my joy,” Rasmia Abu Amar told state television after being reunited with her husband.
“But it is incomplete — my son has not yet been released,” she said, her hair covered by a white headscarf.
A second woman appeared with her four children, their clothes still dirty from their long captivity and her sons with their heads shaved.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that the six were freed on Friday night and that further hostage releases were expected “in the next few days or hours”.
He said that in return for the release of all of the hostages, the Syrian government had agreed to free 60 Islamic State group prisoners and pay a ransom of $27 million.
The jihadists executed a 19-year-old male student among the hostages in August and then a 25-year-old woman in early October. ISIS said a 65-year-old woman being held by the group also died from illness.