Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that the Islamic State has taken 700 people prisoner — including American citizens — from a U.S.-guarded area in Syria, and has already begun executing them. He said the attackers have issued ultimatums, and vowed to kill 10 people every day if they're not met.
Putin said 10 hostages have already been murdered by the kidnappers.
However, the Pentagon has pushed back on Putin's claims and warns that they are mere propaganda efforts.
What are the details?
Speaking in a televised interview during a forum in the Black Sea city of Sochi, Putin claimed that the Islamic State has increased its presence in areas of Syria controlled by U.S. and allied forces, according to the Mirror.
The Russian president reportedly expressed dismay that the alleged kidnappings of roughly 130 families were not being discussed on the international stage.
"Everyone is silent, some kind of silence, as if nothing is happening," Putin said. "[ISIS has] issued ultimatums, specific demands and warned that if these ultimatums are not met they will execute 10 people every day. The day before yesterday they executed 10 people," he continued.
"This is just horrible, it is a catastrophe," Putin added. "Some U.S. and European citizens are among the hostages."
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Islamic State cells had "exploited a sandstorm" in the Deir Ezzor province last week, kidnapping 130 families from al-Bahra camp.
The Observatory said "negotiations are underway on the release of abductees kidnapped by ISIS," but that the terrorists rejected an initial offer made by the International Coalition. The Daily Mail reported that the attackers are demanding food and medical supplies in exchange for letting the hostages go.
The Mail also published pictures purportedly from the attack, which are said to show the Islamic State fighting U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) October 18, 2018
Is this true?
As Putin's claims hit the international news wires on Thursday, Fox News reported that a Pentagon official said the story was "fake news." Cmdr. Sean Robertson told Fox News:
While we have confirmed that there was an attack on an IDP camp near Deir Ezzor last week, we have no information supporting the large number of hostages alleged by President Putin and we are skeptical of its accuracy. We are also unaware of any U.S. nationals located in that camp.
We reject Russian assertions that the U.S. and Coalition have failed to address the threat posed by ISIS. On the contrary, the Coalition has liberated more than 99 percent of the territory previously held by ISIS.
We will continue to work by, with, and through our local partners to pursue the remnants of ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley. Despite our successes, there is still much work to do with our partners to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS.
The same day, Fox News reported that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned the media to be aware of foreign reports that could serve as propaganda or be false.
"Responsibility doesn't stop with the federal government, we also need the private sector and media outlets to step up and take greater responsibility because this — a national interest is a national interest that demands a response from both the federal government and from the private sector," Coats said.