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American woman is being held hostage in Syria

The Islamic State group recently threatened to kill American hostages to avenge the crushing airstrikes in Iraq against militants advancing on Mount Sinjar and the Kurdish capital of Irbil.

The 26-year-old woman was captured last year while working with three humanitarian groups in Syria. A representative for the family and U.S. officials asked Tuesday that the woman not be identified out of fear for her safety. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

More than a week ago, freelance journalist James Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire, was beheaded by the Islamic State group, which kidnapped him in November 2012. Foley, 40, had worked in a number of conflict zones across the Mideast, including Iraq, Libya and Syria. He was in northern Syria on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based news organization GlobalPost when the car he was riding in was stopped by four militants in a contested battle zone that both Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control.

The Islamic State video of Foley's beheading also showed another of the missing American journalists, Steven Sotloff, and warned he would be killed next if U.S. airstrikes continued. U.S. officials believe the video was made days before its release and have grown increasingly worried about Sotloff's fate.

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