Red Cross Workers Kidnapped By Gunmen In Syria

Six Red Cross workers were kidnapped by armed men on Sunday, officials from the humanitarian organization say. They say that a local Syrian volunteer was also abducted. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) say they have not had contact with the gunmen and that their demands, if any, are not known.

Sources at NBC News say the seven humanitarian workers were seized by unidentified gunmen Sunday. The armed men began firing on the workers’ vehicles as they traveled through a northwest area near Idlib in Syria. The attack was well-planned, with the attackers suddenly besetting the vehicle convoy and blocking their escape routes.

BBC News say officials from the ICRC are calling for the release of their kidnapped Red Cross workers and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer. They say this incident will only harm the group’s humanitarian work and ability to deliver help to civilians in need.

The ICRC has not publicly released the names of the abduction victims but say the missing team includes both Syrian and international workers. Officials did say the kidnapped staff were medical specialists.

The vehicles, clearly marked with the Red Cross symbol, are also missing, ICRC officials say. It was not confirmed whether shots had been fired at their staff or if any were injured in the attack. At the time the medical team was on their way back toward the Syrian capital of Damascus before being ambushed.

According to NBC News, abductions are becoming more common in northern Syria. Syrian rebel forces have control of much territory there but cannot hold all urban areas. Journalists and aid workers are often the targets of guerrilla attacks led by rebels in the area.

Officials at the ICRC say they will continue to attempt to make contact with the gunmen involved with the Red Cross worker kidnappings in northern Syria.

[Image via ICRC via photopin cc]