Islamic State militants have seized nearly 700 hostages in part of Syria controlled by US-backed forces and executed some of them, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
Speaking in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Putin said the hostages included several US and European nationals, Reuters reports.
“They have issued ultimatums, specific demands and warned that if these ultimatums are not met they will execute 10 people every day. The day before yesterday they executed 10 people,” Putin was quoted as saying at the Valdai discussion forum in Sochi.
He did not specify what the militants’ demands were.
According to the Russian president, Islamic State is expanding its control in territory on the left bank of the River Euphrates controlled by American-backed forces.
The TASS news agency reported on Wednesday that Islamic State militants had taken around 700 hostages in Syria’s Deir-al Zor province after attacking a refugee camp in an area controlled by US-backed forces on Oct. 13.
The militants had kidnapped around 130 families and taken them to the city of Hajin, it said.
In Washington, the US military cast doubt on Putin’s claims.
“While we have confirmed that there was an attack on an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp near (Deir-al Zor) last week, we have no information supporting the large number of hostages alleged by President Putin,” a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.
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