Russian, Italian hostages released in Syria

Last Updated: Mon, Feb 04, 2013 14:10 hrs

Moscow, Feb 4 (IANS) Two Russians and an Italian have been released by Syrian rebels after being held captive for nearly two months, the Russian foreign ministry said Monday.

"On Feb 3, Russian citizens Victor Gorelov and Abdessatar Khassun were exchanged for the captured rebels," Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying.

Italian citizen M. Belluomo, who was also taken hostage together with the Russians, was also freed.

They were kidnapped Dec 12, 2012, by Syrian rebels while they were on their way between the cities of Homs and Tartus.

The three were workers at a steel plant near Homs.

The Russians arrived at the embassy in Damascus, and were in good health.

Russia reiterated its advice for its nationals not to visit Syria due to the conflict between the government of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels. Around 60,000 people have died since violence broke out in March 2011.

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