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FSA Checkpoint (Reuters)
FSA Checkpoint (Reuters)

Two Russians, Italian were kidnapped in Syria

(Omar al-Shaar | Dp-news)

Agencies- Russia said Tuesday that two of its nationals along with an Italian steel worker had been abducted in Syria on a motorway from the port city of Tartous.


The Russian Embassy in Syria confirmed that the three, who work for a private company in Syria, were abducted along the Tartous-Homs highway.

The spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Syria, Sergey Markov, has confirmed that three people have been kidnapped "Two Russians and an Italian were kidnapped on the road linking Tartus to Homs," the spokesman of the Russian embassy in Damascus Sergei Markov told state television.


“The embassy is working actively to determine their location,” Markov added.



All three men were said to be working for the Syrian-owned Hmisho steel plant. The Russian embassy noted however that all three men worked for a privately-owned Syrian factory in Syria`s coastal region, Interfax reported.


"By all appearances, they are Russians," Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on a visit to the Central Asia state of Uzbekistan.

He added that Russia was undertaking "all the necessary steps both in Syria and other countries" to win the men's release.

Russia's embassy in Damascus had earlier confirmed that two of the country's workers had been abducted together with a man identified by the Italian media as Mario Belluomo.

In turn, The Italian Foreign Ministry also confirmed the reports that an Italian national had been abducted. The Italian Foreign Ministry has also informed the relatives of Belluomo.



"We are working with the utmost commitment and with the same dedication with which our embassies and consulates give assistance daily to our countrymen in difficulty, including in risky regions and situations," Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said.



Italy's news agency ANSA said the Italian captive works as an engineer at the Hmisho steel plant in Latakia, but that he was abducted near Tartous, the Syrian port that is located about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of Latakia and contains the only naval base Russia has outside the former Soviet Union.



Press reports added that no group has so far claimed responsibility, and no demands have been received. It was not immediately clear when the abduction occurred. Yet; the circumstances of the abduction were not released.



Last summer, two Italian electrical engineers were abducted by militants in Syria and freed after eight days in captivity. They told reporters that they were kidnapped by several masked men as they drove to a Syrian airport. The two Italians were then helped by the Syrian army and returned home in July.



Meanwhile, Turkish media is reporting that NBC's chief foreign correspondent and Middle East bureau chief Richard Engel along with his Turkish colleague Aziz Akyavas went missing last week. The story went viral on social media while NBC reportedly asked for a media blackout in order to address the situation without endangering the reporters’ lives.



News of the kidnapping comes not long after it was alleged that Ukrainian journalist and writer, Ankhar Kochneva was abducted by soldiers from the Free Syrian Army.

A month after being taken captive, the kidnappers released a video where Kochneva addressed the Embassies of Ukraine and Russia, as well as the Syrian government, asking that the demands of the kidnappers be met.



In another video the kidnappers also threatened to target all Russians, Ukrainians and Iranians who are now in Syria. However, it could not be verified if the video was made by the same individuals who took Kochneva hostage.


Russia has a naval base in the western port town of Tartous. Russia remains one of Syrian regime's last major ally and has shielded President Bashar al-Assad from UN sanctions aimed at punishing him for his use of heavy force against his resistance.



The kidnapping of foreigners has been rare, but as Syria descends further into chaos the abduction of Syrians has become increasingly common across many parts of the country.

Most of those kidnappings appear to have sectarian motives, part of tit-for-tat attacks between rebels and pro-regime gunmen. But there have been many cases of gunmen capturing wealthy people for ransom or settling personal scores.



Many Syrians rush to get home before dark, even in government controlled areas where the security situation is quieter, for fear of kidnappings.

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