Kazakhstan says dozens of 'hostages' evacuated from Syria

Kazakhstan on Wednesday (January 9th) 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 their homeland to join up with militant groups in Syria since 2011, according to Kazakhstan's security services.

"On January 6th 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 of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) propaganda video showing Kazakh child soldiers training by blocking media outlets that shared the footage.

Kazakhstan has hosted a series of talks on Syria brokered by Iran, Russia and Turkey since the beginning of 2017.

The talks have featured negotiators from the Syrian regime and armed opposition factions but not militant groups such as ISIS.

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