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ISLAMIC STATE

What happened to 8,000 Islamic State captives?

Smoke rises above the Islamic State group's last stronghold in the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria.
Smoke rises above the Islamic State group's last stronghold in the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria. Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP

The international agency Human Rights Watch has called on the Syrian and Kurdish authorities to investigate the fate of thousands of people who went missing while in the custody of the Islamic State armed group.

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More than 8,000 people, detained by IS when the terrorist militia controlled swathes of north and east Syria, remain unaccounted for, the New York-based watchdog said, citing figures from the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

Among them are the British reporter John Cantlie and Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall'Oglio.

Human Rights Watch said the Syrian government and the Kurdish authorities who now control former IS territory have so far failed to prioritise the search for the truth about what happened to the missing.

Kurdish authorities in the northeast "rarely" provide answers to those in search of their relatives, HRW said.

"People whose relatives had been in areas now under the control of Syrian government forces similarly said they received only speculation that Islamic State killed all its captives, or blanket denials of any knowledge," the report said.

US-backed Kurdish-led forces overran the jihadists' last pocket of Syrian territory in the eastern village of Baghouz in March last year.

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