BEIRUT/ROME: Syrian forces freed two Italians workers from an armed group who had seized them earlier this month, Syrian state media said on Saturday.
The Italians, employees of a subcontractor for energy technology group Ansaldo Energia, were seized on July 17 as they drove to the airport to fly out of the country, according to Italian media.
"Our forces have managed to release two Italians who were kidnapped by terrorists in the Damascus countryside," state television said, showing footage of the men being interviewed on what appeared to be a sofa in a hotel.
Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi welcomed the news of their release.
Italian news agency AGI said one of the men, who it named as Oriano Cantani, had said by telephone that it was not clear who had detained them.
"Who kidnapped us? We also want to know that. It's difficult to say because the situation is very confused," AGI quoted him as saying.
He told the news agency that they had been shifted to several different locations over the past few days.
The men appeared healthy but tired in the footage aired on Syrian television. In the interview with the state broadcaster the men said they had been kidnapped by a group of young people who carried grenades and Kalashnikov assault rifles.
Cantani told AGI that they were both well but the experience in captivity had been "pretty tough".
An Ansaldo spokesman contacted by Reuters declined to comment.
Foreign Minister Terzi said the news of their release was a positive development.
"We continue to follow developments through all available channels, to arrive at a swift conclusion," he said without offering any other details.
A report in Italian daily Secolo XIX had said last Saturday that the men were travelling in a convoy of 20 staff who worked for Ansaldo when they were captured.
The two men had become separated from the group when it was stopped and ended up in the hands of a rebel group, the newspaper said, citing a colleague of the men who managed to leave Damascus. The others made it home safely. AGENCIES