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American woman is held hostage in Syria

BY LARA JAKES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Islamic State militant group is holding hostage a young American woman who was doing humanitarian aid work in Syria, a family representative said Tuesday. The 26-year-old woman is the third American known to have been kidnapped by the militant group.

The Islamic State group recently threatened to kill American hostages to avenge the crushing airstrikes in Iraq against militants advancing on Mount Sinjar and the Kurdish capital of Irbil.

The 26-year-old woman was captured last year while working with three humanitarian groups in Syria. A representative for the family and U.S. officials asked that the woman not be identified out of fear for her safety. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

More than a week ago, freelance journalist James Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire, was beheaded by the Islamic State group, which kidnapped him in November 2012. Foley, 40, had worked in a number of conflict zones across the Mideast, including Iraq, Libya and Syria. He was in northern Syria on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based news organization GlobalPost when the car he was riding in was stopped by four militants in a contested battle zone that both Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control.

The Islamic State video of Foley's beheading also showed another of the missing American journalists, Steven Sotloff, and warned he would be killed next if U.S. airstrikes continued. U.S. officials believe the video was made days before its release and have grown increasingly worried about Sotloff's fate.

Other American hostages have been held by other militant groups, including Peter Curtis from Boston, who was recently released by al-Nusra Front, a rival Sunni extremist group. Another U.S. freelance journalist, Austin Tice of Houston, disappeared in Syria in August 2012 and is believed to be held by the Syrian government. Tice was working for The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers and other media outlets when he was kidnapped.

The Islamic State militant group is seeking to create a caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq. The militant group is so ruthless in its attacks against all people they consider heretics or infidels that it has been disowned by al-Qaida's leaders.

President Barack Obama said in a speech in North Carolina on Tuesday that "America does not forget" and vowed justice for Foley's murder.

In its annual report last November, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists estimated at least 30 journalists have been kidnapped or have disappeared in Syria - held and threatened with death by extremists or taken captive by gangs seeking ransom. The CPJ described the widespread seizure of journalists as unprecedented and largely unreported by news organizations in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help to negotiate the captives' release.

The group reported 52 journalists have been killed since Syria's civil war began in early 2011 and documented at least 24 other journalists who disappeared earlier this year but are now safe.

Separately, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders last fall cited higher figures, saying at least 60 "news providers" are being detained and more than 110 have been killed.

---

Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann in Washington and Julie Watson in San Diego contributed to this report.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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windyoak August 27 2014 at 4:19 AM

Humanitarian work in Syria?...this is like domesticating crocodiles in their own habitat......advice for future idiots...YOU ENTER ANY MIDDLE EASTER BORDER, KISS YOUR ASS GOODBYE....as for Women...Pray that they kill you first..
you are to them a winning lotto holder.

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2 replies
Truwriter windyoak September 02 2014 at 3:17 PM

Windy, you are just blowing smoke. Syria is a modern country with a middle class, business, universities, hospitals, schools. It is not Syria that is doing this, it is the ISIS (AlQeada) group that Obama has been funneling arms and money to. He wanted to turn over the Syrian people to be slaughtered by ISIS the way Iraqis are now. Syrian tolerates Christian and Catholic religions/churches there. ISIS would have had to work overtime beheading all of them. WE are wrong, Syria was right to resist this group. We have a rogue President who has armed the greatest evil in the world.

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1 reply
SPARKS INC OHIO Truwriter September 02 2014 at 7:36 PM

Syria is and has always been the cradle of civilization. the written word, math, and Jesus and many others came from Syria, till the US decided to topple the Assad regime and creating the opposition which in turn became ISIS. blame no one else but this lovely and wise government. and dont forget the photo op for john Mccain and ISIS leader Abu bakr Albaghdadi

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CAMERON windyoak September 02 2014 at 3:46 PM

So very. True

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Buckingham's August 27 2014 at 3:02 AM

These American citizens who go into a very dangerous country KNOWINGLY, should NOT be expecting America to bail them out! Think first. DON'T GO.

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prairiecal August 27 2014 at 6:16 AM

I'm sure we'll soon hear a speach from Obama that he won't tolerate this.

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4 replies
Kathy August 27 2014 at 7:47 AM

Plenty of humanitarian work to be done right here at home. Why these Americans feel the need to put themselves into knowingly dangerous situations is beyond me.

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3 replies
pboucard50 August 27 2014 at 7:12 AM

a young American woman who was doing humanitarian aid work in Syria. What kind of humanitarian work? 18 million American children go to bed hungry every night.

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4 replies
rwitchwoman63 August 27 2014 at 8:09 AM

These people are animals and vermin and need to be treated as such...For this girl to bad so sad for her, but she went into a dangerous place knew it was dangerous still went....= Dumbass!!!

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IBruzEZ August 27 2014 at 7:58 AM

I feel for these people who have the courage of their convictions to go out and try to do good in the face of such pure evil. At the same time, I think it is very selfish to so this then put your families thru the suffering when you are taken hostage by some crazy, evil group such as isis.

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miriamisrael1 August 27 2014 at 7:34 AM

Why would any American let alone a woman go to such links for people who hate you enough to kill for no reason at and sometimes even as youu are trying to help them..Oh wait that happens here too.

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meanstr August 27 2014 at 7:30 AM

It is a sickness that the people in our Government Believe Assad is so bad that they Allow Saudi Arabia get this country to fund and aid Sunii Islmics in Syria,Time to help Assad and destroy all these Sunii madmen rapest of little girls and killers.These may have been the kind of people Assad had found it was best to kill.

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1 reply
Gayle meanstr August 27 2014 at 9:39 AM

The funny thing about America is they support regimes until there is something they want then suddenly they create horrors to eliminate the leader so they can put someone in who will play footsies with us. Think about it. Everyone we helped get into power around the globe we are fighting with or taking out in 20 yrs or less. We did it with Osama Bin Ladenm, Saddam Hussein, in Viet Nam, South America and all over.

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1 reply
ESTRALITASESCAPE Gayle August 27 2014 at 1:29 PM

Gayle, "You hit it right on the Head!" Good to see people that actually KNOW what we've done and what's going on.

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magcom2 August 27 2014 at 1:43 PM

Any American who goes into these places for humanitarian reasons should first think of how many American lives could be lost trying to get them out.

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