An Italian war reporter held hostage for five months by rebel forces in Syria has written a damning denunciation of the anti-Assad movement. "It is not the revolution that I encountered two years ago in Aleppo—secular, tolerant. It has become something else," Domenico Quirico wrote in his newspaper La Stampa, per the New York Times. "Our captors were from a group that professed itself to be Islamist but that in reality is made up of mixed-up young men who have joined the revolution because the revolution now belongs to these groups that are midway between banditry and fanaticism," he wrote, per the BBC. "They follow whoever promises them a future, gives them weapons, gives them money to buy cell phones, computers, clothes."
More controversially, Quirico's fellow captive, Belgian academic Pierre Piccinin, has accused the rebels—of whom he says he was previously a "fierce supporter"—of framing Bashar al-Assad with last month's chemical weapons attacks, after overhearing their captors say as much on a Skype conversation with other rebels. But Quirico is less certain. "We heard some people we didn’t know talking through a half-closed door," he says, per the Times. "It’s impossible to know whether what was said was based on real fact or just hearsay." Nevertheless, he says, he does not support a US military strike against Syria, which he says would only strengthen extremist forces, reports ANSA. "Our captors were happy at the idea of an American bombardment," he says.