Two young Italian aid workers kidnapped in Syria last year and seen pleading for their lives in a video recently released by their captors are free and arrived back in their homeland today, Italian authorities say. The country's foreign ministry says Vanessa Marzullo, 21, and Greta Ramelli, 20, who were kidnapped in July 2014, were freed after "intense work by Team Italy," the BBC reports. They arrived at Rome's airport on a flight from Turkey today and were greeted by the Italian foreign minister.
The pair—who co-founded a humanitarian group to deliver medical supplies to Syria—had been held by the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate. They were released after a ransom of up to $12 million was paid, sources tell the Guardian, which notes that European governments have been much more willing than the US to pay ransoms to militant groups. After their arrival in Rome, Marzullo and Ramelli were taken to a hospital for a checkup before meeting anti-terror prosecutors.