Two Italians held in Syria released-Syria state TV

BEIRUT/ROME, July 28 (Reuters) - Syrian forces freed two

Italians workers from a group of rebels who kidnapped them

earlier this month, Syrian state media said on Saturday.

Italy's foreign minister described the news of the release

as a positive development.

"Our forces have managed to release two Italians who were

kidnapped by terrorists in the Damascus countryside," state

television said on Saturday.

The Italians, employees of a subcontractor for energy

technology group Ansaldo Energia, were detained by armed men on

July 17 as they drove to the airport to fly out of the country,

according to Italian media.

"The release of our two nationals by the groups that held

them in the last few days is a very positive development,"

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said in a statement.

"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.

(Reporting By Mariam Karouny in Beirut and Catherine Hornby in

Rome; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

UNDERSTANDING THE SYRIA CONFLICT