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Four Red Cross hostages are freed

Four of the seven hostages from the International Committee of the Red Cross kidnapped in Syria have been freed.

A Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteer and three of the six Red Cross staff are now safe, head of Middle East operations Robert Mardini said.

Gunmen abducted the seven on Sunday after stopping their convoy in north-western Syria.

Syria's state news agency said the gunmen opened fire on the ICRC team's four vehicles before seizing the workers. The news agency blamed "terrorists," a term the government uses to refer to opponents of president Bashar Assad.

They had been in the area since October 10 to assess the medical situation and look at how to provide medical aid.

Much of the countryside in Idlib province, as well as the rest of northern Syria, has fallen into the hands of rebels over the past year, and kidnappings have become rife, particularly of aid workers and foreign journalists.

AP

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