Six Red Cross workers kidnapped at gunpoint in Syria
Convoy stopped along roadside in northern Syria as team returned from Damascus
Six members of the International Committee of the Red Cross were kidnapped near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province in Syria today.
Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Damascus, said the abduction took place near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province around 11.30am local time as the team was returning to Damascus. Six of the people kidnapped are ICRC staff workers and one is a volunteer from the Syrian Red Crescent, he said.
Mr Schorno declined to provide the nationalities of the six ICRC employees.
Syria’s state news agency, quoting an anonymous official, said the gunmen opened fire on the ICRC team’s four vehicles before seizing the Red Cross workers. The news agency blamed “terrorists,” a term the government uses to refer to those opposed to president Bashar Assad.
Mr Schorno said the team of seven had been in the field since October 10th to assess the medical situation in the area and to look at how to provide medical aid. He said the part of northern Syria where they were seized “by definition is a difficult area to go in”.
Much of the countryside in Idlib province, as well as the rest of northern Syria, has fallen into the hands of rebels over the past year, and kidnappings have become rife, particularly of aid workers and foreign journalists.