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Kidnapping of aid workers in Syria adds another layer to conflict

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The kidnapping of six international Red Cross employees and one employee of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Syria has added more fuel to worries about the growing hazards of providing aid to hundreds of thousands of Syrians displaced by the country's ongoing civil war.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) spokesman Robert Mardini wrote this morning that the Syrian and three of the other kidnapped aid workers have been released, but also drew attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the country.

The BBC reports details of the kidnapping:

A convoy carrying six ICRC staff members and one Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer was intercepted by unidentified armed gunmen near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province, ICRC spokeswoman Rima Kamal told the BBC.

"We call for the immediate release of the seven colleagues abducted this morning... who work tirelessly to provide assistance to those most in need in Syria. Incidents such as this one unfortunately will undermine our capacity to assist those who need our help," she said.

The ICRC has declined to reveal the identity, gender or nationality of the abducted workers but they are believed to include both local and international staff, who are mainly medical specialists.

The ICRC is active in conflict spots around the globe, but also operates in less overtly dangerous realms - the Red Cross has been in the news recently for delivering food aid in Britain and advocating the punishment of war crimes in video games.

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