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Published: Monday, 10/14/2013

Four kidnapped Red Cross, Red Crescent workers released in Syria

LOS ANGELES TIMES

BEIRUT — Three kidnapped International Committee of the Red Cross staff members and a volunteer from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were released Monday, a day after they were seized in northern Syria, ICRC officials said.

Three other Red Cross workers remain captive in Syria, spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk said in a telephone interview from the agency’s headquarters in Geneva. No other details were provided about the release.

On Sunday, gunmen in Syria’s Idlib province waylaid a humanitarian convoy and abducted the six Red Cross personnel and the Red Crescent volunteer. Red Cross officials have not disclosed their nationalities.

The kidnapping apparently occurred in rebel-held territory in Idlib, much of which is under insurgent control.

At the time of the attack, the Red Cross convoy was en route back to Damascus, the capital, after delivering medical and other assistance to northern communities, the ICRC said.

It was still not clear Monday who had kidnapped the relief workers.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, Red Cross officials have worked to raise awareness of who they are and the nature of the agency’s humanitarian, nonpartisan work, said Rima Kamal, an ICRC spokeswoman in Damascus. Previous Red Cross teams have also traveled to northern Syria.

Dozens of armed factions are active in Idlib province and elsewhere in the expanses of northern Syria, where the government has withdrawn its forces. The area has seen an epidemic of kidnapping for political, sectarian and financial motives. Foreign journalists, aid workers and Christian clerics have been among those targeted by armed groups.



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