Russian Foreign Ministry reports release of 2 Russian hostages in Syria

Two Russian nationals taken hostage in Syria in December are free, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Monday.

"Russian nationals Viktor Gorelov and Abdessatar Khassun, who were taken hostage by Syrian extremists on their way from Homs to Tartous in Western Syria on December 12, 2012, were exchanged for militants on February 3. The Russians were brought to the Russian Embassy in Damascus. They are in good health and feel okay," the report said.

"They were given an opportunity to speak to their families," the ministry said.

Italian national, M. Belluomo, taken hostage together with the Russians, will be transferred to Italian representatives via the Syrian Foreign Ministry.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Damascus had been insisting on the release of the Russian nationals since the moment of their abduction. There had been intensive contacts with representatives of the Syrian government and various opposition groups inside and outside of the SAR," the ministry report said.

"Bearing in mind the acute confrontation in Syria, including military clashes, we reaffirm the travel alert for the SAR," the report said.

Earlier reports said that the abducted Russian and Italian nationals were working for the HMISHO and Co steel plant located in the industrial zone near Homs.

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