The fate of a Syrian child abducted last year remains unknown despite the family’s willingness to pay the hefty ransom, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on Wednesday.
Eight-year-old Fawwaz Qutayfan was kidnapped on November 2 in Syria’s Daraa province, which the Syrian army recaptured in 2018, while he was heading to school with his sister.
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According to the Observatory, masked men on a motorbike abducted him and demanded a ransom from his family for his release.
A video seen by the Observatory on February 4 reportedly shows Qutayfan pleading his kidnappers to stop beating him. The kidnappers had sent the video to Qutayfan’s family to pressure them to pay the ransom.
“For God’s sake, do not beat me,” Qutayfan tearfully pleads in the video as men strike him with what appears to be a belt and a rope.
Qutayfan’s uncle reportedly told the news website Sham FM that the kidnappers initially demanded a ransom worth 700 million Syrian liras ($210,000), but later accepted to decrease it to 400 million Syrian liras ($120,000), adding that the family sold everything it owns.
In a phone call with Al Arabiya’s correspondent, Qutayfan’s uncle said that despite selling everything they own, it was still not enough.
“The family sold everything, land, property and gold, but it was still short on money to pay the entire ransom,” he told Al Arabiya’s correspondent, adding that the Qutayfan clan helped the family and collected the rest of the amount needed.
According to the Observatory’s sources, the kidnappers had sent several videos to Qutayfan’s family in which Qutayfan implored them to save him.
Although the family managed to secure the ransom money, the kidnappers have not communicated with them yet, although they had given them until Wednesday to pay it, according to the Observatory’s sources.
The kidnappers had also threatened to cut off Qutayfan’s fingers if they don’t receive the ransom by the deadline, the Observatory’s sources revealed.
The Observatory reported on Tuesday that Qutayfan’s family was waiting for the abductors to communicate with them to transfer the ransom, adding that the gang may fear that the Syrian regime’s security forces, which intervened after the case garnered the public’s attentions, will trace it if they communicate with the child’s family.
Russian-backed military forces from the Fifth Legion and some Syrian regime forces arrived at the town of Ibtta in Daraa and surrounded it after receiving information that the gang was holding the child there, the Observatory said.
Qutayfan’s ordeal has attracted the public’s attention with many taking to social media platforms using the hashtag #SaveFawwaz to voice their sympathy and pray for his safety.
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