Reports have surfaced that two Italian aid workers being held by militants in Syria have been released and are on their way home to Italy. The aid workers, Greta Ramelli and Vanessa Marzullo, were captured while performing aid work in northern Syria in July or August last year. They were abducted by the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda.
They were working in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo as members of a volunteer health care association when they were abducted. Their abduction was officially announced by the Italian government in August. There seemed to be confusion about the details of their capture in the first days after the announcement of the abduction. Italian newspapers reported conflicting accounts and that they had been taken by different groups.
The women appeared in a YouTube video posted a few weeks ago. In the video, produced by their captors, the women read from a written statement in which they pleaded for the Italian government to rescue them and claimed that their lives were in danger. Italy’s government announced that the women have been freed and are on their way back to their home country. The details of their release and how they will be returning to Italy has not yet been made public. A co-worker of the abducted women said they had been to Syria previously.
The women, believed to be in their 20s, are lucky to be alive. A number of Westerners in Syria have been abducted by the Nusra Front and the Islamic State militant group. Some of the militants in Syria have been beheading their hostages to send a message to the countries that are helping to fight against them. The Islamic State has beheaded at least five captives from Western countries, including three Americans.