Russian traveller captured in Aleppo in 2013 rescued. Returns to Russian soil.


Syria was once known for its spice markets and scenic Mediterranean landscapes. One of the oldest markets in the world existed in the city of Aleppo at the northern edge of Syria. This image of the country is now but a memory as the civil war being fought by a variety of factions since 2011 has pushed the country into turmoil. A reported 300,000 people have been killed and more than a million have become homeless due to the conflict.

The war began after the Arab Spring shook the Middle East. Bashar al-Assad, whose regime was brought into question by rebels, put down the protest in a violent manner leading to the beginning of a war that has now been going on for almost 6 years.

Foreign involvement in the war has meant that the War has transmogrified into a bigger and more complex beast. While the Rebels have been supported by United States, France and other allies, Assad’s regime has received support from the Russian military leading to a proxy war which mirrors the era of the cold war.

Russia’s involvement in the war has been for various reasons and like the opposition its involvement has primarily been through sending weapon and monitory support in the war.

But no war is without Human casualties and complications. One such story that has been unfolding for over three years has been that of a Russian traveller and Photographer Konstantin Zhuravlev, who had been reportedly sized by Syrian rebels in Aleppo in 2013. Russian FSB security service reported that Zhuravlev has been rescued and returned to Russian soil after three years in captivity.

Zhuravlev was abducted by armed groups and held in captivity in northern Syria. He was able to send a Skype message to his mother in 2014 in which he claimed that his captors would kill him unless the Russian government took action.

He was captured by the Islamist group Liwa al-Tawhid on 30th September 2013 while he was hitchhiking through Aleppo. He had been hitchhiking through Siberia and was headed towards the Sahara desert.

The captors Liwa al-Tawhid once one of the most powerful factions in the Syrian rebels merged with the Islamic front in 2013 and since then their role in the war has been unclear. Russia has been conducting air strikes to help Assad’s regime in Syria for the past year. Their apparent assault on domestic areas including hospitals and Schools has lead world leaders and the U.N. to accuse them of committing war crimes.