On the 25th July, ISIS took 27 people hostage in Southern Syria. Around 16 children are included in these numbers, according to Human Rights Watch. Whilst motives are unknown at this time, it is believed that ISIS wants to leverage talks with Syria and Russia to their advantage. ISIS is also recorded to have snipers on rooftops, ready to shoot civilians who seek immediate medical assistance.
The whereabouts of the hostages are the subject of speculation, with some Syrian citizens suggesting that the hostages are currently being held in the eastern region of the Sweida desert. A month has passed, and this situation demands action and attention. Right now, the families of the hostages are cruelly left with confusion and despair.
The hostages were taken during an assault by ISIS which resulted in the deaths of around 200 civilians. This attack was condemned by Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. However, the violence continues. A disturbing video has been circulated where Muhammad Abu Ammar, a 19-year-old hostage, is beheaded by ISIS. This has distressed the international community and the victim’s family. There have also been reports that the Syrian government are trying to free the hostages, and are being assisted by local militias. However, the situation is far from resolved.
The current situation is a catastrophe of human rights abuses. Taking hostages and threatening them is a war crime. On 28th July, a video by ISIS was released depicting a hostage saying that if the Syrian government does not stop their campaign on Yarmouk, the hostages will be killed. Civilians are being used by terrorist groups as a way for ISIS to wield more power. This is deeply disturbing, as no human deserves to be degraded into a political object.
To eliminate terrorism, the Syrian Government have a lot of work to do. They must win back the trust of Syria’s people. Not only have they been ineffective, but frequently come across as lacking empathy to the plight of civilians. Governments must protect their people, and the Syrian government has failed in doing that. If governments fail to act, that gives terrorists the opportunity to inflict violence. ISIS is aware of that and has taken advantage of Syrian citizens’ vulnerability. There has been a disturbing lack of military presence or security forces by the Syrian government, which has given ISIS an advantage. That’s not good enough, and the Syrian government must change how they react to terrorist attacks.
The lack of security in Southern Syria has led to destruction and instability. Terrorism is an issue of human rights, and it is not good enough for the Syrian government to do the minimum. Instead, they should be working with their citizens and the international community. Issues such as terrorism and warfare should not doom a country to an eternity of despair. Instead, leaders such as Assad should be working at making their country safer and more secure.
Sadly, Bashar al-Assad’s response remains inadequate and ISIS continues to unleash terror in Syria.