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MOSCOW, October 28. /TASS/. The Russian embassy in Syria is verifying reports of Russian citizen Sergey Gorbunov's death in the country, an embassy source told TASS on Tuesday.
“The Russian embassy in Syria is checking information into the alleged execution by gunmen of Sergey Gorbunov, reported by the Russian media citing the US-based New York Times,” the source said.
The Russian national had been reportedly held by terrorists along with hostages from other countries in northern Syria’s Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate.
The New York Times reported that Gorbunov, an engineer, was last seen in a video released in October 2013. He said that if Russia failed to meet the abductors’ demands, he would be killed.
The Russian hostage appealed to the president of Syria, Russia and to the Red Cross.
The report said Gorbunov was dragged out of his cell and shot dead last spring, and the footage of the execution was shown to the surviving prisoners. “This,” they said, “is what will happen to you if your government doesn’t pay.”
Last October, the Islamist group abducted another Russian, Konstantin Zhuravlev, who was traveling in Syria. The gunmen accused him of spying for the Syrian government.
The Islamic State, which has been fighting against the government in Syria since 2012, launched an offensive in Iraq in June, seizing vast areas in both countries and proclaiming a new “caliphate.”
The US and its allies have recently launched airstrikes against the fighters in both Syria and Iraq. Russia insists that fighting against terrorism should be conducted on a solid basis of international law under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council.