Gunmen abduct six Red Cross workers and local volunteer in Syria

The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed the abductions.
The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed the abductions. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Gunmen abducted six Red Cross aid workers and a local volunteer of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in northwest Syria on Sunday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

The humanitarian agency had no contact with the unidentified gunmen, ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson said, declining to reveal the identity, nationalities or gender of the six ICRC staff for now.

“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the seven colleagues abducted this morning,” Magne Barth, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Syria, said in a statement.

The team had gone to Idlib on Thursday to assess the medical situation in the province and to deliver medical supplies to Sarmin and Idlib city, it said. The convoy was clearly marked with the ICRC emblem when stopped near Sareqeb on the way back to Damascus, it added.

“Both the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent work tirelessly to provide impartial humanitarian assistance for those most in need across Syria on both sides of the front lines, and incidents such as these potentially undermine our capacity to assist those who need us most,” Barth said.

Syrian state media reported the incident earlier in the day, saying the gunmen had kidnapped the Red Cross workers after opening fire on their vehicles on Sunday.

Quoting an unnamed official, state news agency SANA said the workers were travelling in the Idlib area when gunmen blocked their path, shot at their convoy, seized them and took them to an unknown location.

“An armed terrorist group today kidnapped a number of workers in the mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Syria,” the report said, using a term the government frequently uses for rebels trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Watson was not able to confirm that shots had been fired, but said the team’s vehicles were also missing.

Kidnappings have become increasingly common in northern Syria, where rebels have captured swathes of territory but government forces have clung on to many urban centers and fighting continues daily.

The ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent are the main aid groups deployed in Syria’s civil war, distributing their own supplies and most of those sent by United Nations agencies.

They have to negotiate the passage of aid convoys with a growing number of groups within the fractured opposition, ICRC officials say.

“Whether in the north or other regions of the country where the opposition groups are strongly present, it is the multiplicity of groups that makes the dialogue challenging,” Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the ICRC’s operations director, told reporters at its Geneva headquarters last month.

“Criminal actors” were also part of the challenging scenario in Syria, he said.

The 2-1/2-year conflict has claimed more than 100,000 lives and driven more than 2.1 million refugees out of their homeland.

“The ICRC is committed to assisting the Syrian people and will continue conducting its humanitarian activities both in the country and in neighboring countries for refugees there,” Barth said in the statement.

Syrian authorities on Sunday allowed 3,500 people to leave Moaddamiyah, a besieged town in the Damascus region, Watson said.

“We and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are assisting those people with emergency relief items including food and water,” he said.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…