Two female Italian hostages held in Syria have been released: Government

Italian aid workers Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli, taken hostage in Syria more than four months ago, have been released and will soon return home, Italy's government said on Thursday. -- PHOTO: AFP
Italian aid workers Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli, taken hostage in Syria more than four months ago, have been released and will soon return home, Italy's government said on Thursday. -- PHOTO: AFP

ROME (REUTERS) - Two Italian aid workers taken hostage in Syria five months ago have been released and will soon return home, Italy’s government said on Thursday.

“Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli are free and will soon return to Italy,” read a Tweet from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s office.

Renzi’s spokesman also confirmed the news.

No details about their release were provided. Some Italian media reported that the two young women would be flown out of Turkey on Friday.

In August, Italy’s Foreign Ministry said the pair were taken hostage while seeking to provide healthcare assistance in the embattled northern city of Aleppo.

Two weeks ago, their captors released a threatening video online demanding that the government intervene to bring them home.

The video said they were being detained by Al-Qaeda’s Syria wing, the Nusra Front.

“We are in big danger and we could be killed. The government and its militaries are responsible (for) our lives,” one of the women said in English, appearing to read from a statement.

Nusra Front and the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group have held groups of Westerners hostage in Syria, which has descended into a splintered and prolonged civil war.

ISIS beheaded several male hostages including aid workers and journalists in 2014.

Nusra Front released other hostages last year, including a group of Greek Orthodox nuns in March and a US writer in August.