Abductions are still ongoing in the province of Idlib, which is mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), due to rampant insecurity and absence of checkpoints at the entrances and exits of Idlib’s cities and towns. At list 23 civilians, medical personnel, and humanitarian workers were kidnapped during January and February 2019, mostly for ransom, according to STJ field researcher.
The phenomenon has created fear and insecurity among Idlib’s people who condemned the armed groups’ inability to control the security situation.
STJ already documented the abduction of at least 25 people in Idlib and Hama in late 2018.
STJ also documented the kidnapping of civilians by unknown gunmen in Idlib between December 2, 2018, and January 8, 2019. Two of the abductees were killed, whereas one child and a media activist were released, and three others are still missing.
Kidnapping medical personnel for ransom
Hamdo Matar, 37-year-old, married with one kid, was abducted from his own pharmacy in the HTS-held town of Ma’ar Debsa by a masked group on February 3, 2019 at around 5:30pm and released on 16th February after paying a ransom.
His brother recalled to STJ:
“I was working 200 meters away from my brother’s pharmacy when some people told me that it was open, but my brother was not in. I go myself there to search for him, but he was nowhere. We realized that he was been abducted and circulated the news, but we couldn’t identify the perpetrators even after his release. My brother is a well-reputed and kindhearted man. He has a four-year-old kid and he is rich.”