ROME - Two Italians working in Syria were detained by a group of armed men as they drove to the airport to fly out of the country, the daily Secolo XIX said on Saturday, citing a colleague of the men who managed to leave Damascus.

The newspaper said the two men, employees of a subcontractor for energy technology group Ansaldo Energia, had been detained on Tuesday but that the news only emerged when their colleague contacted the newspaper, which, like Ansaldo, is based in the northwestern city of Genoa.

A report on the newspaper's website said the men were traveling in a convoy of 20 staff who worked for Ansaldo and subcontractors, and that 18 of them had returned home safely.

But the two men had become separated from the group when it was stopped and ended up in the hands of a rebel group, it said.

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