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IS 'kidnap more than 300 workers near Damascus'

The Al Badia Cement plant near Damascus Credit: Al Badia Cement

So-called Islamic State have abducted more than 300 cement workers near Damascus, according to Syrian state TV.

The militants launched an assault against government forces in the area this week.

The workers and contractors of Al Badia Cement company - which according to its LinkedIn page employs between 201 and 500 employees - were taken from near the town of Dumeir and the company had lost all contact with them, state TV quoted the industry ministry as saying.

The workers were taken from near the town of Dumeir Credit: Google maps

'At least 62' killed in blasts in Syrian capital

Credit: Reuters

At least 62 people have been killed in multiple bomb blasts in the Syrian capital Damascus, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Four blasts hit a district which is home to a Shi'ite shrine. Another 180 people were wounded, the Observatory said.

Twin car bombs also killed at least 57 people in Homs, the monitoring group said.

The wave of violence comes as the US Secretary of State John Kerry has said he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov had reached a provisional agreement on terms of a cessation of hostilities in Syria and the sides were closer to a ceasefire than ever before.


Damascus residents make gas masks in case of attack

Syrians living in rebel-held areas of the capital are manufacturing their own gas masks in case the area comes under another chemical attack like that of 21 August.

Volunteers at work in a home-based factory in eastern Damascus Credit: Reuters

A home in the Ghouta region of Damascus has been converted into makeshift factory turning out 200-300 masks each day. Volunteers then distribute them to local residents.

The gas masks are made from cotton, wax and coal Credit: Reuters

"With our limited resources we were able to produce this protective mask that is made of cotton, coal, wax, and other similar material. God willing this mask will be effective and protect people," said one volunteer called Ibrahim Shami.

They hope that the masks, which are entirely funded by local donations, will be effective enough to give people time to escape any future attack.

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