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Syrian ex-captive says he was with Goto, Yukawa

Kyodo

A Syrian man held in northern Syria by the Islamic State group has said he was with the two Japanese hostages killed by the militants and delivered food to them in a cell for foreign captives.

In an interview, the 45-year-old man, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, also said Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, who was burned to death by Islamic State, was detained in the same facility.

His remarks are believed to be the first detailed information about how and where Kenji Goto, 47, and Haruna Yukawa, 42, were held captive.

The approximately 250-sq.-meter facility carved in a mountainside east of Raqqah had multiple cells for foreigners, the Jordanian pilot and Syrians.

“There were two Japanese and 10 Westerners in the cell. All of them were in orange clothing,” the Syrian man said through an interpreter. “I could not look at their eyes because I could not help them. They looked sad,” he said in Arabic.

The man was held captive in late December by Islamic State as he belonged to the Free Syrian Army, a pro-Western rebel group.

For about 10 days from mid-January, he was ordered to deliver food to the foreigners’ cell, and to al-Kaseasbeh. He delivered 12 meals to the foreigners’ cell three times a day.

In late January, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State, visited the facility and ordered around 100 Syrians, including the man who spoke to Kyodo News, to be freed.

The man said he could not talk with the captives because it was strictly prohibited.

When asked about al-Kaseasbeh, the man said, “He was crying all the time,” and the prison manager told the Jordanian pilot, “Your family will have a bloody cry for you because you killed innocent civilians.”