Beirut, November 29 - An Italian national, Sergio Zanotti, has been held captive by an unidentified armed group in Syria for seven months, the Russian site Newsfront reported on Tuesday. The site showed a video in which the hostage, a native of Brescia, appears to call on the Italian government to intervene to prevent him being executed. Sources at the Italian foreign ministry's crisis unit said that the Italian authorities had been aware of the video for several days and were following the case. A man appears in the video with a long beard and dressed in a white tunic, kneeling out in the open amid olive trees. Behind him another man is standing, dressed in black and with his face covered, aiming a machine gun at him. The kneeling man is holding a placard with a date on it, apparently November 15 2016. In another photo posted on the same site the alleged hostage is standing, barefoot, holding the same placard. Below his image is that of his passport, made out to Sergio Zanotti, born in 1960 at Marone near Brescia. "My name is Sergio Zanotti," says the man, speaking with a Brescian accent, "and for seven months I have been imprisoned here in Syria. I appeal to the Italian government to intervene for me before I am executed". Italian investigators say the video has been circulating on the Web for about a week and the Italian does not appear to have suffered a lot from his alleged seven months of imprisonment. Investigators are reconstructing the man's movements and have established that Zanotti did indeed leave Italy several months ago for Turkey, where he disappeared.
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