Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement released Monday that three people, including an Italian engineer, have been kidnapped in Syria.
According to Reuters news, all three worked at a steel plant near Latakia and were kidnapped in Tartus, a stronghold of Assad's minority Alawite community.
However, the ministry said it would not provide any details on when the kidnapping took place, or on the nationalities of the two other people, in order to protect them.
But Italian Sky TG24 reported that two Russians and one Italian have been abducted outside Latakia, in Syria.
"We are working with the utmost commitment and with the same dedication with which our embassies and consulates give assistance daily to our countrymen in difficulty," Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said, "including in risky regions and situations."
Its worth mentioning that Italy cut its diplomatic and economic ties more than a year ago with the Syrian regime, as did the rest of the European Union members. According to a statement by the Italian Foreign ministry, the abductees were working in an area under full control of the Syrian regime, as well as the area where they had been abducted.
The news came as Russian media reported that the Kremlin’s Human Rights Council has joined the White House, Reporters Without Borders and the International Press Institute in urging the Free Syrian Army fighters to immediately release captured Ukrainian journalist Ankhar Kochneva, who was abducted in Syria last October. Russian media claimed that captors demanded a ransom of $50 million US dollars.
Knowing that none of the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army websites declared that they abducted the Ukrainian journalist, which raises the possibility that she has been kidnapped by a gang using the name of the Free Syrian Army.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Lebanese daily al-Akhbar, which is close to the Syrian regime, Syrian vice president Farouk al-Sharaa said the situation in the country was heading from bad to worse, so the country needs historic settlement by formation of a national unity government which would have broad powers.
He stressed that neither the forces of President Bashar al-Assad nor opposition fighters were able to win the war in Syria.
However, It is the first statement in several months from Farouk al-Sharaa, who has deny fleeing Syria. Al-Sharaa, 74, is the most powerful Sunni Muslim figure in the minority Alawite-led Assad regime and has served in high-ranking government posts for nearly 30 years.
Al-Sharaa comments came as Iran, Syria’s main ally, said it is backing presidential elections in Syria as part of its six-point peace plan. The plan, outlined on Sunday, would put an end to the ongoing civil war that started in March 2011. Indications are that the regime is losing control in Syria.
According to state media and Iranian news agencies, the plan calls for efforts to halt the flow of weapons into Syria and ultimately to create a transitional government to lead Syria towards parliamentary and presidential elections. Iran is also calling for the release of political prisoners and the reconstruction of areas damaged in the fighting.
In a related development, Al Arabiya News reported that defectors of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command in Syria, called on Sunday, for the arrest of the group’s head who backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has been fighting alongside the regime’s forces.
Al Arabiya TV mentioned that Jibril implicated the Palestinians in a war which they have nothing to do with. Moreover, after his departure, the Syrian regime committed a massacre in which more than 25 innocent people were killed.
I think that the Italian government must explain the reason for the presence of the Italian engineer in Syria. He was not supposed to be there, as there are no relations between Syria and his country, thus there is no protection for him.
The reader needs to be aware that the engineer and the other abductees were working in a factory owned by the Syrian government. Of course, this shows that what Italy stated about economic sanctions on Syria was just news in the media and had nothing to do with reality.
As for the Ukranian journalist, if the Free Syrian Army was responsible for this incident, they would certainly announce it. But I think that the Syrian opposition and the Free Syrian Army have nothing to do with this matter. As this does not benefit neither Syria nor the Syrian people. Besides, the kidnappers are asking for money, so this shows that a gang is behind this operation.
I expected the statement of al-Sharaa to be through media not affiliated to the Syrian regime, or at least through the Russian media. Moreover, I also expected the interview to be taped, but an interview with the Lebanese newspaper supporting the regime tends toward disbelief. I also consider the alleged speech to be just one of the regime's games. The reason that the world was very surprised was al-Sharra did not have any role in the Syrian crisis. Therefore, they might also fabricate an interview with Walid al Muallem knowing that he and al-Sharaa have been absent for a long time.
The Iranian Initiative is very vague and the opposition will reject it, especially if Bashar al-Assad is part it. Iran promised to publish its plan within two days. We can notice that the Iranians are aware that the regime is losing a lot on the ground and that his days are numbered. Therefore, all the allies of the regime are racing to provide a lifeline. Thus, I expect several initiatives to take place, all bearing a political solution. Nevertheless, the situation on the ground indicates that the solution will be military only.