Sandrini released after 'complex' foreign territory op - Conte

Sandrini released after 'complex' foreign territory op - Conte

Giuseppe Conte

Photo: AFP

Italian hostage Alessandro Sandrini has been freed "after a complex operation in foreign territory" premier Giuseppe Conte said Wednesday after a jihadist group in northwest Syria announced his release.

"Compatriot Alessandro Sandrini has been released after a complex operation in foreign territory," Conte said in a statement.

The operation "was carried out in a coordinated manner involving synergies by Italy's intelligence services, judicial police and the foreign ministry's crisis unit," the statement said.

Earlier, hardline militant rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which largely controls the embattled northwest Syrian province of Idlib, said the kidnappers had "recently" freed Sandrini, without saying where.

Sandrini had been held by a gang that demanded ransom payments, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham's administrative arm, the so-called 'Salvation government' said in a statement carried by the Sham news agency.

Sandrini, 32, who is from the northern Italian city of Folzano, vanished in October 2016 after boarding a flight to the southern Turkish city of Adana, allegedly for a week's holiday. He called his mother a year later to ask for help, saying he had been abducted and did not know where he was or who was holding him.

In a video published by US terrorism tracking organisation SITE last July, Sandrini, clad in an orange jump-suit and flanked by rifle-toting masked gunmen, asked the Italian government to help secure his release, saying: "They will kill me".