Hundreds of Syrian civilians have been missing since an attack by militants of the Islamic State group near Damascus earlier this week, according to reports Thursday. Nearly 250 people who worked at a cement factory in the region are untraceable since Monday, and monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said they may have been abducted by ISIS, according to AFP.
ISIS militants attacked the Badiyah cement factory east of Damascus Monday. The area has reportedly seen fierce clashes between Syrian regime forces and ISIS fighters in recent days, and the jihadists took control of an army base and a strategic checkpoint apart from capturing the cement plant, according to ARA News.
"We haven't been able to reach our family members since noon on Monday after an attack by Daesh on the factory," a resident told AFP, using the Arabic acronym for the terror group. "We have no information about where they are."
Syria's pro-government Sham FM radio said as many as 344 civilians had been taken hostage by ISIS, according to Xinhua.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reportedly said "dozens" of civilians were taken from the cement factory to an unknown location. ISIS car bombings at the Dumeir military airport northeast of Damascus this week also left 12 Syrian soldiers dead, the monitoring agency said, according to Reuters.
ISIS also reportedly stole some of the Syrian's army's equipment, including machine guns, the base of thermal rockets and a T-62 tank, ARA News said.
The Islamic State group is infamous for abductions and execution of civilians by barbarian methods.
ISIS has suffered heavy losses in recent months from airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition and Russian jets, as well as from offensive by the Syrian regime forces who retook the ancient city of Palmyra from the terror group last month.