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Woman 'kidnapped in Syria' returning home to Argentina

A number of foreigners have been kidnapped in Syria [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2018

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An Argentinian woman who was kidnapped in Syria is on her way back home following her long ordeal in the war-torn country.
A woman who was kidnapped in Syria two years ago following a false marriage proposal is on her way home to Argentina, Syrian rebels have said.

Fifty-four-year-old history teacher Nancy Roxana Papa was lured to Argentina after accepting a marriage invitation from a Syrian man she had met online three years earlier.

After a long ordeal, Papa was finally free to return home.

"She returned to Turkey on Saturday after the required legal documents... were completed" for her entry into Turkish territory, said Bassam Sahiouni, an official from the local rebel authority in Idlib province.

On October 30, the "Salvation Government" - set up in rebel-held Idlib by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group - handed Papa over to the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, a Turkish non-governmental organisation, at the Bab al-Hawa border post.

She then had to remain in Syria for over a month to await completion of procedures that would allow for her repatriation back home.

The Argentinian teacher had appeared on 30 October at a news conference organised by HTS at the border, where she thanked Argentina's diplomatic services, the Turkish authorities and the "Salvation Government".

"You saved my life," she said that day, drying her tears after Sahiouni explained the circumstances of her misadventure.

He gave an account of her story at the press conference.

She entered Syria illegally in 2016 on the pretence that she was to meet her partner's family. Once there, she was immediately kidnapped by a gang waiting for her on the other side of the border and contacted her daughter to demand a ransom, Sahiouni said.

She managed to escape from her captors after a year and survived in Syria by staying with residents and moving from home to home.

The "Salvation Government" sought to address the case earlier this year and tried without success to contact Argentina's foreign ministry, before the Humanitarian Relief Foundation eventually dealt with her situation, Sahiouni said.

Last year, HTS reunited a Belgian girl with her mother, after  the death of the four-year-old's father, a radicalised criminal who had entered Syria with the child in May 2017.   

A number of other foreigners are believed to have been held or recently released in Syria.

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