Kazakhstan evacuates dozens of 'hostages' from Syria

AFP

ALMATY -- Kazakhstan on Wednesday (January 9) said dozens of its citizens, including children, had been evacuated from Syria after being held "hostage" in the country, AFP reported.

Hundreds of Kazakhs have left the Muslim-majority country to join up with militant groups in Syria since 2011, according to Kazakhstan's security services.

"On January 6 this year... 47 citizens of Kazakhstan, including 30 children, were evacuated from Syria," Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said.

"They were deceived into going to this country in crisis where they were held hostage by terrorists," Nazarbayev said.

"We will continue to work on the return of children who [were taken to] a combat zone against their will," he added, without providing details of the operation.

In 2014, authorities reacted to an "Islamic State" (IS) propaganda video showing Kazakh child soldiers training by blocking media outlets that shared the footage.

Thousands from other Central Asian nations and the Caucasus have travelled to Syria to join jihadists since war broke out there.

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