Hopes for Italian priest’s release in Syria

An Italian priest captured by Islamic fighters in Syria last year is alive, with negotiations currently underway for his release, according to Italian media.

Hopes for Italian priest's release in Syria
Paolo Dall'Oglio went missing in Syria in July 2013. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Efforts to free Paolo Dall'Oglio “have been ongoing at various levels in Syria and outside the country”, anonymous sources told ANSA news agency.

People close to the negotiations said the most recent confirmation that the Jesuit priest was alive came two weeks ago, ANSA reported on Monday.

When contacted by The Local, the Italian Foreign Ministry was unable to confirm the news.

Dall’Oglio went missing in July in the eastern city of Raqqa, with reports divided over whether he went freely to negotiate the release of hostages or had been abducted. He is now believed to be in the custody of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group linked to al-Qaeda.

The Italian priest had lived in Syria for more than 30 years when popular protest in the country descended into civil war. He was expelled from Syria by President Bashar al-Assad in 2012, although was smuggled back across the border shortly before disappearing.

SEE ALSO: Italian priest fighting for peace in Syria

In September an Italian journalist was freed after five months being held hostage in Syria. Domenico Quirico, a seasoned correspondent for La Stampa, said he twice tried to escape and faced mock executions while in captivity.

READ MORE: Italian faced 'mock executions' in Syria

More than 150,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war, according to estimates, while the UN has so far registered more than 2.7 million refugees.

Don't miss a story about Italy – Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes

A film that follows two friends through four nightmarish years of the Syrian civil war has lifted some of the top prizes at the Venice film festival, which ends Saturday.

Syrian war documentary wins top Venice prizes
The Venice film festival ends on Saturday. Photo: Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP
“Still Recording”, a documentary by Ghiath Ayoub and Saeed Al Batal, records what happened to two idealistic art students after they were swept up in the fervour of the Syrian revolution. It picked up two awards at Venice Critics' Week.
Friends Saeed and Milad leave Damascus and go to Douma in 2011, a suburb under rebel control, to set up a radio station and recording studio. There they struggle to keep a flicker of hope and creativity alive as they endure fighting, siege and famine.
Ayoub and Al Batal, who shot 500 hours of footage, told AFP that with so little reporting coming out of Syria it was important to bear witness.
“We started doing this because there wasn't, and still isn't, an efficient working media in Syria because it's not allowed to enter and if it is, it's under the control of the regime,” said Al Batal.
“Art is nothing if it is not resistance, even if there isn't revolution… it is resistance against a huge amount of emotions you have got inside you. Emotions need to come out and expressing them through art can do that.”
The win comes as the Syrian regime and its Russian allies are preparing to launch an assault on Idlib, the northern province that is the last major stronghold of the rebel and jihadist groups which have been trying to overthrow Bashar al-Assad for the past seven years.
Al Batal said the situation in Syria “is more dangerous than ever now” because the Russian military are more ruthless than Assad's badly trained soldiers.
“They know where to hit, and how to hit hard,” said Al Batal, who said the “media army behind them” was the same.