Two Italian aid workers captured in Syria by al-Qaeda appear on Youtube video
By Nick Squires, Rome:
A video has emerged of two young Italian women, who were kidnapped in Syria last summer, begging for their lives and warning that they are in “danger” of being executed.
Wearing black veils, Greta Ramelli, 20, and Vanessa Marzullo, 21, tell the camera: “We are in big danger and we could be killed,” in the latest hostage crisis to confront the West.
The video message, posted on YouTube and thought to be genuine, marks a chilling start to 2015 for their families in Italy, but does at least prove that they are still alive.
The two young women, who were working as aid volunteers in Syria, were kidnapped near Aleppo last July. They had been in Syria for just a matter of days when they were seized.
Before the release of the video message, the women had last been seen on Aug 1 last year.
Their captors are believed to be Jabhat al-Nusra, a branch of al-Qaeda, and not the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), which has beheaded five western hostages.
The 23-second video appears to have been shot on December 17 – one of the young women holds up a piece of paper with 17.12.14 written on it – but only came to light on Thursday.
“We supplicate (sic) our government and its mediators to bring us back home before Christmas,” the young women say in the message. “The government and its mediators are responsible for our lives.”
Their families were criticised in Italy for allowing their daughters to travel to Syria, but their parents said the women were determined to go.
Ms Ramelli’s mother, Antonella, said that from a young age her daughter had wanted to help others, starting by working in a retirement home when she was 12.
Responding to suggestions that she should not have allowed her daughter to travel to Syria, Mrs Ramelli said: “When you hear your daughter say ‘Mamma, in that country they are killing children, I must go and help,’ what can you say?”