Russia Checks Claims That Syrian Jihadists Abducted Russian

MOSCOW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) – A Russian man was abducted by Syrian rebels who want to swap him for a detained ally, according to a video appeal on YouTube whose authenticity was being verified by Russian diplomats.

The appeal, uploaded Tuesday, featured a bearded middle-aged man reading out a statement in Russian that said he was captured in an airport for the city of Hama, in central Syria.

The captors treated him well, but threatened to kill him by Monday if he were not exchanged for a Saudi native recently detained in Syria, said the man, who identified himself as Sergei Gorbunov.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it was looking into the reports.

A spokesman for the Red Cross, which the man asked to assist in the prisoner swap, said the organization had been not contacted by anyone over the alleged abduction.

Parties in the ongoing Syrian civil war have been previously accused of releasing fake videos for propaganda purposes.

A note accompanying the YouTube video identified the abductors as Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, an armed Islamist group run by a native of Chechnya, a Russian republic long plagued by an Islamist insurgency.

Russian traveler Konstantin Zhuravlyov was reportedly kidnapped in Syria earlier this month, also by rebels who believed him to be a spy.

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