7 Red Cross aid workers abducted in Syria
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, 6:36 p.m.
Gunmen attacked a humanitarian convoy in northern Syria on Sunday and abducted seven people working with the International Committee of the Red Cross, the aid group said.
The seven included six staffers of the International Committee of the Red Cross and a volunteer from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent. The nationalities of the Red Cross personnel were not made public.
The kidnappings occurred near the city of Sareqeb in Idlib province, where several anti-government armed factions control broad stretches of territory.
The official Syrian news agency reported that “an armed terrorist group” — the government's term for rebels — opened fire on the Red Cross convoy. It was not clear whether anyone was injured in the attack.
The aid team had traveled to Idlib province on Thursday “to assess the medical situation in several ... health structures and to deliver medical supplies” to the cities of Sarmin and Idlib, the Red Cross said. Such a trip would appear to require crossing of government and rebel lines, usually manned by checkpoints.
The attack occurred as the convoy was on its way back to Damascus, the capital, the Red Cross said. The vehicles were clearly marked with the Red Cross emblem, “which is not a religious symbol,” the aid group said.
Magne Barth, who heads the Red Cross contingent in Syria, issued a statement calling for “the immediate and unconditional release of the seven colleagues abducted this morning.”
Sunday's attack underscored the dangers to aid workers and others inside Syria.
Among those kidnapped in northern Syria in recent months have been a number of foreign journalists and two Christian bishops: Greek Orthodox Bishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Bishop Yohanna Ibrahim. The fate of the two bishops, who were seized near Aleppo in April, remains publicly unknown.
The Syrian civil war has turned into a humanitarian catastrophe. Heavy fighting and bombardment has reduced some entire towns to rubble. Many hospitals and schools have been destroyed.
Among its many missions, the Red Cross in Syria distributes food and other essentials, helps restore water supplies, supports medical services and tries to put family members separated by the war back in touch with each other. The group works in both government-controlled and rebel zones. More than 20 Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers have been killed since the conflict began.
Because of the danger, some humanitarian agencies have left Syria and others have cut back on their staffing in the war-ravaged nation. Still, the Red Cross on Sunday vowed to remain in Syria.
“The ICRC is committed to assist the Syrian people,” the aid group said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 284 missing, 4 dead in South Korea ferry disaster
- Missing plane’s black box batteries feared to have died
- Analysis: Invading Ukraine likely Plan B for Putin
- Iranian court spares life of former Marine
- 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria; militants blamed
- Iran blasts ambassador visa denial
- Ukraine bares teeth as troops repel rebels