Militants from the Islamic State have abducted close to 900 Kurdish civilians during the last three weeks in the province of Aleppo in northern Syria.
They forced their captives to build new fortifications in retaliation for an assault led by the Kurds on a stronghold of IS nearby, said activists on Friday.
Reports emerged, as well on Friday, that 26 or more of those abducted were killed due to refusing to follow the orders of IS members.
The latest abductions come amidst strong fighting for control of a key stronghold of IS known as Manbij in the province of Aleppo, where the extremists group is being routed from the center of town by the Kurds and Syria Democratic Forces backed by the U.S.
Some of the Kurds abducted were made to dig trenches and build shelters for IS, said a media activist who is Kurdish, while other were forced to put on IS uniforms and made to fight their opposition.
On Friday, the nearly all Kurdish SDF fought militants from IS inside the town of Manbij after encircling it in an offensive that has taken weeks and backed by airstrikes from the U.S. led coalition.
A human rights group on the ground known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that is based in Britain reported that jets from the coalition had struck targets in the town.
The SDF lost 89 fighters since it launched this campaign to take Manbij May 31, while at the same time the IS lost 463 fighters.
This push by members of the SDF into the town has come slow as fighters first were focusing on taking control of dozens of small villages near town the last few weeks.
The town is on the only supply line for the IS between the border of Turkey and Syria to the north and the extremists group’s capital of Raqqa, that lies southeast in the Raqqa province that is ISIS held.
If the SDF can take control of Manbij it would be the biggest defeat strategically for IS inside Syria in nearly one year, when the militants group lost Tal Abyad a border town.
The U.S. embedded 300 of its special forces operators with members of the SDF. The White House did say they were all advisers. French special forces are embedded with the SDF as well.
A spokesperson for the SDF said that whenever the IS is pushed back or defeated, they begin to take civilians hostage and that is exactly what they have done now in Manbij.