The majority of the Syrian civilian kidnap victims are reported to be women and children. As food supplies run low, they not only face the threat of being massacred by Daesh, they also struggle not to die from hunger.

BEIRUT, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Islamic State militants kidnapped at least 400 civilians when they attacked government-held areas in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zor on Saturday, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday families of pro-government fighters were among those abducted.

“There is genuine fear for their lives, there is a fear that the group might execute them as it has done before in other areas,” said the Observatory’s head Rami Abdulrahamn.

Deir al-Zor is the main town in a province of the same name. The province links Islamic State’s de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa with territory controlled by the militant group in neighboring Iraq.

Syria’s state news agency SANA said earlier that at least 300 people, including women and children, had been killed during the attacks in Deir al-Zor, but it made no mention of people getting kidnapped.

UPDATE:  It appears the cause for the kidnapping was a result of the victims being family members of pro-regime supporters.  Prior to the kidnapping, at least 300 civilians were slaughtered.  Since the kidnapping, 270 of the 400 kidnap victims have been released.  The reason for their release is not yet known.