Efforts Underway to Free 2 Russians Abducted in Syria

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Russia’s Foreign Ministry will do everything within its power to establish the circumstances surrounding the abduction of the Russian nationals in Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

“We are actively engaged in this. All the necessary steps are being taken,” Lavrov told journalists during talks in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday issued a statement identifying the Russians as V. Gorelov and Abdessattar Khassun, who also holds a Syrian passport, and confirmed that Italian Mario Belluomo was abducted with them.

All three work for the Hmisho steel company’s plant near Homs, the statement confirms, adding that the company had received a telephone demand from unidentified individuals for payment as a condition for their release.

The Russian Embassy in Syria on Monday confirmed media reports that two Russians had been abducted near the western Syrian port city of Latakia as they were travelling along the Tartus-Homs highway.

Embassy spokesman Sergei Markov said that the circumstances surrounding their abduction are being investigated, and that steps are being taken to identify their location and secure their release.

On Monday the Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed media reports that an Italian national had been abducted.

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