Italian journalist missing in Syria alive

ROME (AFP) - An Italian journalist who had been missing in Syria since early April has made contact with his family, the editor of the newspaper he works for said on Thursday in a message on Twitter, as the news was confirmed by the foreign ministry.

"(Domenico) Quirico is alive and today he spoke with his wife. He is still in Syria, we hope to hug him soon," said Mr Mario Calabresi of the daily La Stampa, while the ministry confirmed the journalist had contacted his family and said it was following the situation closely.

The ministry described the situation as "particularly delicate" and called for the media "to act responsibly with regard to spreading news from unverified sources and maintaining the discretion necessary to foster a positive outcome in this case".

On Saturday, Mr Quirico's daughters had published a video in several languages, including Arabic, in which they appealed to Syrians for help in finding their father.

Mr Quirico entered Syria from Lebanon on April 6, after which he was in touch for a few days, but there had been no further contact since April 9.

The 62-year-old journalist has long experience in conflict zones, having covered stories in Libya, Sudan and Mali.

The paper did not announce the disappearance immediately, saying it wanted to "avoid attracting attention to Domenico in a zone with a high risk of kidnapping".