Videos released of Japanese, Italian captives in Syria

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An extremist group has released videos of a Japanese journalist and an Italian man held captive in Syria in which they appeal for their release, US-based monitors said Tuesday.

The two men -- Japanese freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda and Italian national Alessandro Sandrini -- appear in two separate videos that are nonetheless similar in their staging and were released by the SITE group, which tracks white supremacist and extremist organizations.

SITE did not say which group was responsible for the videos.

Both men are shown kneeling in front of a wall wearing orange jumpsuits while armed men dressed head-to-toe in black stand behind them.

Jumpei is thought to have been abducted by the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, in northern Syria in 2015.

He identifies himself as Korean in the video but speaks Japanese, giving the recording date as July 25, stating that he is in a bad situation and asking for help.

Sandrini gives a different date, July 19, and says that it is his last request to the Italian government.

The Italian hostage was kidnapped in Turkey in October 2016 before being taken to Syria, according to reports in the Italian media. He is believed to be from Brescia and is said to be around 32 years old.

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