‘Italian priest was held with James Foley’
An Italian priest who has been missing in Syria for more than a year was held with James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by Islamic militants last month, a Syrian dissident has said.
There have been mixed reports of the fate of Paolo Dall’Oglio since he was kidnapped in the northern city of Raqqa last July. But now dissident Michel Kilo has said that he is being held along with two Italian aid workers, Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli, by militants from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis).
Dall’Oglio was previously held with Foley, whose killing was filmed and broadcast by Isis, Kilo has said.
“For many months he was held in a government building in Raqqa, where the jihadists had their headquarters. There were a lot of other Western prisoners with him, I think also James Foley,” Kilo told Corriere della Sera, citing “reliable sources”.
The Italian priest, who lived in Syria for 30 years before civil war broke out, was first kidnapped by Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham. He was then passed on to Isis, Kilo said.
Dall’Oglio is currently being held in a jail run by Iraqi jihadists from Isis, where Marzullo and Ramelli are thought to be imprisoned after disappearing in July shortly after arriving in Syria.
While the Italian priest has been kept alive for more than a year, Kilo said he is in increasing danger following the killing of Foley and two other hostages.
“[Italy’s] military involvement in the new coalition led by the Americans against the Islamic State [Isis] introduces a political element,” Kilo warned.
The US call for action against Isis followed the killing of Foley and fellow American journalist Steven Sotloff, while the UK government said it would take action after British aid worker David Haines was beheaded by the militants.
Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini has described Isis as “a threat” to Europe and members of the Nato military alliance. When contacted by The Local, the Italian foreign ministry was not immediately available to comment on the hostage situation in Syria.