ISIS fighters have kidnapped 300 cement workers outside the Syrian capital Damascus, it has emerged.
Extremists seized the labourers from an area close to the town of Dumeir, northeast of the capital.
The hostages were taken near the spot where militants had launched an assault against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad earlier this week.
ISIS fighters have kidnapped 300 cement workers outside the Syrian capital of Damascus (file picture)
A source in the company told state-run news agency SANA that there has been no success in efforts to establish contact with any of the workers.
SANA said ’employees and executives of the Al-Badia cement factory’ were abducted by the jihadists, after local residents reported that at least 250 workers at the plant had been missing since Monday.
‘The company has informed the industry ministry that it hasn’t been able to make contact with kidnapped individuals,’ SANA said.
Mass abductions have taken place on occasion in Syria during the country’s devastating civil war, now in its sixth year, most often of religious minorities such as Christians.
The abduction came as fighting with ISIS militants raged in northern Syria on Thursday. Syrian opposition fighters have advanced on strongholds of the terror group, including the ISIS-held town of al-Rai in northern Aleppo along the border with Turkey.
Earlier this week, ISIS fighters launched attacks on government-held areas near Damascus in what a Syrian source said appeared to be a response to the group’s loss of ground elsewhere.
The group said in a statement it had attacked the Tishrin power station, 30 miles northeast of the capital. The Syrian military source acknowledged the group had staged assaults, but said all those who took part had been killed.
Syrian and allied forces backed by Russian air strikes have forced ISIS militants out of the town of al-Qaryatain, which lies between Damascus and the ancient city of Palymrya, itself recaptured by the government last week.
ISIS has also been losing ground to US-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria, and in recent days to Turkish-backed rebel groups fighting a separate battle against the group north of Aleppo.
The Syrian source said Tuesday night’s attacks outside Damascus appeared to be the jihadist group’s response to its reverses around Palymra.