* The Islamic State in Iraq and a-Sham kidnapped Kurdish citizens from a number of areas Tuesday, said Syrian Kurdish PYD spokesman Ibrahim Ibrahim. Ibrahim told Syria Direct Thursday that the abductions occurred in Jarablus and in and around Manbaj, which last year was widely seen as an example of how rebel groups might harmoniously govern a peaceful town. The Syrian Observatory has documented the kidnapping of 51 citizens by ISIS over the past three days, including nine children and a woman. ISIS has also taken control of Kurdish stores and bakeries in the city of Manbej, the Observatory added.
* An FSA field leader in Qalamoun told Syria Direct on Thursday that Mother Pellagia Sayyaf and 12 nuns kidnapped from the Mar Takla Monastery Maloula earlier this week are safe in a church in the rebel-held city of Yabroud. The leader said there had been attempts to contact the United Nations to secure their safe exit to areas inside or outside Syria.
Photos circulated on social media sites depicted assassinated Hezbollah commander Hassan Laqees in front of a Hezbollah flag and the Saida Zainab Shi’a shrine in Damascus.
* Hassan Laqees, a prominent Hezbollah leader, was assassinated in front of his home Wednesday in the militia’s stronghold in southern Beirut. “The assassination of brother Hassan Laqees comes in the framework of targeting resistance and opposition groups,” the Syrian government said in a statement, condemning the assassination as “cowardly and terrorist.” Hezbollah has pointed a finger at Israel for the assassination, though Syrian rebels, Al-Qaeda-linked militants and Saudi groups have also been accused of responsibility. Defense analysts considered Laqees among the top military figures in the militia’s communications technology and weapons procurement efforts.
* Syrian Airlines has reduced the number of flights from Damascus and Latakia to Egypt to three flights a week from 17. The carrier saw demand on the Cairo routes plummet following new Egyptian regulations requiring Syrians to obtain entry visas, Syria News reported Wednesday. The Egyptian government decision came “as a result of Syrian extremists’ attempts to enter Egypt,” the pro-government website reported.
* Syrian Electricity Minister Imad Khamis said power is gradually returning to southern Syria after a widespread outage due to a technical issue at a main power station, official news agency SANA reported Wednesday.
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