SOCHI, RUSSIA (REUTERS) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday (Oct 18) that Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants had seized nearly 700 hostages in part of Syria controlled by United States-backed forces and had executed some of them and promised to kill more.
Speaking in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, Mr Putin said the hostages included several US and European nationals, adding that ISIS was expanding its control in territory on the left bank of the River Euphrates controlled by US and US-backed forces.
Mr Putin did not specify what the militants' demands were.
"They have 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," Mr Putin told the Valdai discussion forum in Sochi.
The Tass news agency reported on Wednesday that ISIS militants had taken around 700 hostages in Syria's Deir-al Zor province after attacking a refugee camp in an area controlled by US-backed forces on Oct 13.
Tass said the militants had kidnapped around 130 families and taken them to the city of Hajin.
In Washington, the US military cast doubt on Mr Putin's claims.
"While we have confirmed that there was an attack on an IDP (internally displaced persons) camp near (Deir-al Zor) last week, we have no information supporting the large number of hostages alleged by President Putin and we are sceptical of its accuracy," Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
"We are also unaware of any US nationals located in that camp," he added.