Two Italian Women Kidnapped in Syria Appear in Online Video

January 2, 2015  

Two women identifying themselves as Italian aid workers kidnapped in Syria have appeared in a video urging their government to seek their release, AFP reported on Thursday.

The video, filmed in mid-December, appeared online Wednesday night and purportedly shows Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli, who were abducted by gunmen in northern Aleppo province in August.

The women, both in their twenties, are shown wearing black dresses and headscarves, seated before a blank wall.

One woman holds a piece of paper with the date December 17, though the video appeared to have been posted online on December 31, noted AFP.

The other, apparently reading from a script out of shot, urges the Italian government to bring them home before Christmas.

The 23-second video includes no details of which group is holding the women and no one else appears in the footage.

The posting on YouTube is titled “Al-Nusra Front detains two Italian employees because of their government’s participation in the coalition against it”, but the video was not posted on any official accounts belonging to Al-Nusra, which is Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate.

In previous hostage videos by the group, detainees have been shown in front of Al-Nusra’s flag, noted AFP.

In August, the Italian foreign ministry denied reports that the two women were being held by the Islamic State group, but gave no details on which group it believed had kidnapped the pair.

They were working for the aid group Horryaty when they were abducted.

Al-Nusra Front, whose leader pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, has been heavily involved in the fighting in Syria as well as in neighboring Lebanon, where it has claimed responsibility for several bombings and has also threatened local Sunnis.

In September, the group denounced U.S.-led airstrikes on Syria, aimed mostly at the Islamic State (ISIS), and threatened to retaliate against Western and Arab countries that took part.

ISIS and Al-Nusra were once bitter enemies but the international campaign against ISIS has caused the two groups to agree to stop fighting each other and work together against their opponents.

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