Italia’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on April 5 that Italian businessman Sergio Zanotti, who was held hostage in Syria for three years, has been freed.
“At the end of complex, delicate operations of information, investigation and diplomacy that took place simultaneously, we succeeded today in obtaining the release of Sergio Zanotti, kidnapped in Syria in April 2016,” Conte said in a statement.
The Italian PM added that Zanotti’s general condition appears to be good and that he will return to Italian capital of Rome within a few hours.
57-year old Zanotti was abducted by terrorists in southern Turkey near the Syrian border in 2016. During his captivity, the terrorists sent at least two videos of him to his relatives. In one of the video, Zanotti can be seen kneeling in front of a masked gunman and asking the Italian government to intervene and prevent his execution.
Syrian opposition sources said that the Italian man was likely abducted by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, or one of its radical allies. These terrorist groups occupy more than 90% of the governorate of Idlib in northern Syria.
The Italian government didn’t provide additional information on how Zanotti was released from captivity. However, there is a good chance that a ransom was paid. Idlib terrorists are known for kidnapping foreigners as way to fund their activities.
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