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Seven Red Cross Relief Workers Seized In Syria

The International Committee of the Red Cross says seven of its workers have been abducted in northwest Syria. The team, which includes one Syrian Red Crescent volunteer, was taken by gunmen as they drove to Damascus on Sunday morning.

The workers were seized in Idlib province, where rebels have clashed with government forces this month.

"We call for their immediate release," the relief agency said.

The AP reports:

"Syria's state news agency, quoting an anonymous official, said the gunmen opened fire on the ICRC team's four vehicles before seizing the Red Cross workers. The news agency blamed 'terrorists,' a term the government uses to refer to those opposed to President Bashar Assad."

In Damascus, ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno tells the AP the workers had been in the field for four days, reviewing medical needs in the country that's been wracked by a civil war. He wouldn't reveal the nationalities of those who had been kidnapped.

After the abduction Sunday, the group's director-general, Yves Daccord, tweeted, "Our thoughts are with our colleagues and their families."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.

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