Hundreds of ISIS fighters were given safe passage out of their last remaining territory in Deraa on Tuesday, in what local sources said was part of a secret deal for the release of women and children held hostage by the extremists.
Thirty women and children have been held by the group since last Wednesday, when they were kidnapped in an attack on the southern city of Sweida.
Militants stormed the Druze-majority city and its surrounding villages in the early hours of Wednesday, setting off car bombs and murdering civilians in their homes. More than 250 people were killed — 60 of them in the village of Al Shabki, where the women and children were seized.
Negotiations between Druze leaders and ISIS had faltered in recent days, and the group threatened to kill the captives unless their demands for a halt to the Syrian army offensive in Deraa were not met.