3 Spanish Journalists Kidnapped in Syria Freed

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Three Spanish freelance journalists who went missing in Syria last year and were believed to have been kidnapped have been released, the Spanish government said.

3 Spanish Journalists Kidnapped in Syria Freed

The three men - Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre - disappeared last July. They were working on an investigative report in the northern city of Aleppo, where other journalists have been captured in the past, Spanish media reported at the time, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Spain's acting deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria had made contact and spoken with the three, a government spokesman said. El Pais newspaper reported the men were now in Turkey and waiting to be brought back to Spain.

No details were immediately available on how the three were released, but Qatar claimed it had helped.

Qatar's state news agency said Assistant Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad Martian had received a phone call from Spain's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ignacio Iapanaz Rebeo, in which he "thanked the State of Qatar for its efforts in the release of three Spanish prisoners who had been detained in Syria".

Some Spanish media, including El Pais, say the three were held by al Qaeda's Syrian wing, the Nusra Front terrorist group.

The journalists entered Syria from Turkey on July 10 and went missing shortly afterwards, Spanish press association FAPE said last year. Few details have since emerged regarding their situation.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Damascus accuses Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar of funding and arming anti-Syria terrorist groups, including Daesh.

According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people, injured 1.9 million others, and displaced nearly half of the country’s pre-war population of about 23 million within or beyond its borders.

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