Al Qaeda-inspired extremists kidnapped at least 150 children as they went home after exams in northern Syria, Kurdish leaders told NBC News on Friday. Aged between 10 and 15, the students were traveling from the city of Aleppo to their hometown Kobani when they were abducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) at the end of May, Kurdish rebel commander Ali Muslim said. Among them were dozens of schoolgirls who were released within hours, said a Kurdish political activist who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
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"We thought at first the students were abducted because they go to regime areas or because they are Kurds or because the majority of the Kurds are with PYD [Democratic Union Party] who are fighting against ISIS,” the activist said. “But now, we are afraid that the students are trained to fight with them or using them as human shields.” Six students had managed to escape, according to Muslim. Kurds in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey have been fighting for a separate homeland for decades.
- Ammar Cheikh Omar and F. Brinley Bruton