Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Belarusian woman kidnapped by Syrian rebels worked in nightclub in Lebanon, official says

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Belarusian citizen Svyatlana Markiyanovich had repeatedly visited Lebanon to work in a nightclub before being kidnapped by Syrian rebels, Syarhey Koltun, deputy head of the interior ministry's Drug Control and Human Trafficking Prevention Directorate, told reporters on Monday.

"According to our information, she repeatedly visited Lebanon on her own, worked for several months in one of the nightclubs and then returned to Belarus," Mr. Koltun said, adding that she did not have a working visa.

It is known that Ms. Markiyanovich was deprived of her parental rights for failing to take proper care of her son, and that the six-year-old boy has been adopted by another family, he said. "As far as we know, the moral qualities of this woman also leave much to be desired," he said.

M. Koltun said that the interior ministry was taking every possible measure to return Ms. Markiyanovich to her home country as soon as possible. After that, a probe will be launched to establish how the woman ended up in Syria and what she was doing there, he said.

On August 9, a video featuring Ms. Markiyanovich and Moldovan citizen Karina Koltsa surrounded by gunmen was posted on Youtube. The women said that they had been sent to Syria by Hezbollah to spy on the "Free Syrian Army," pretending to be journalists.

According to Ms. Markiyanovich’s account on social networking website odnoklassniki.ru, she is a 30-year-old resident of Zhodzina, Minsk region. She visited her page on June 17, 2013, for the last time. One of her photographs was apparently taken when she was flying in an aircraft.

A brother of Ms. Koltsa, Leonid Bydko, confirmed to the Belarus Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that his sister left on July 25 to "earn some money." "She phoned me a week ago and said that she had been kidnapped," Mr. Bydko said. "She says that she was kidnapped from her girlfriend’s place, and that they are both in captivity now."

Ms. Koltsa’s first phone call to her brother was from a Lebanese number. The July 25 call was from a Syrian number. The woman said that she was in Syria.

The 32-year-old Koltsa has no husband, children or job. Her brother did not report her kidnapping to authorities.