Aid workers captured in Syria
BEIRUT — Gunmen attacked a humanitarian convoy in northern Syria on Sunday and abducted seven people working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the aid group said.
The seven included six staffers of the International Committee of the Red Cross and a volunteer from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. The nationalities of the Red Cross personnel were not made public.
The kidnappings occurred near the city of Sareqeb in Idlib province, where various anti-government armed factions control broad stretches of territory. The official Syrian news agency reported that “an armed terrorist group” — the government’s term for rebels — opened fire on the Red Cross convoy. It was not clear whether anyone was injured in the attack.
The aid team had traveled to Idlib province Thursday “to assess the medical situation in several ... health structures and to deliver medical supplies” to the cities of Sarmin and Idlib, the ICRC said in a statement. Such a trip would appear to require crossing of government and rebel lines, usually manned by checkpoints.
The attack occurred as the convoy was on its way back to Damascus, the capital, the ICRC said. The vehicles were clearly marked with the ICRC emblem, a red cross.
Magne Barth, who heads the ICRC contingent in Syria, issued a statement calling for “the immediate and unconditional release of the seven colleagues abducted this morning.”
Among those kidnapped in northern Syria in recent months have been a number of foreign journalists and two Christian bishops.