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Freed journalist 'ducks for cover' at sound of planes

Quirico says US intervention in Syria would be 'serious error'

10 September, 14:27
Freed journalist 'ducks for cover' at sound of planes (ANSA) - Rome, September 10 - After 152 days in often-brutal captivity, veteran war correspondent Domenico Quirico, who returned to Italy on Monday, said he instinctively "ducked for cover" at the sound of airplanes overhead when he woke up in his own bed on Tuesday.

"Only after a few moments did I realize I was not in Syria, I was home. It was a beautiful sensation," he said in an interview with television network Sky TG24.

Quirico, a long-time journalist for La Stampa daily, celebrated his first day of freedom Monday after five months of captivity in Syria along with Belgian academic Pierre Piccinin.

The 61-year-old reporter, who returned five kilos lighter but in good health, said that his captors did not treat him well.

"I was scared. The revolution betrayed me," he said.

"Maybe this sounds too moralistic, but truly, in Syria I met the country of Evil," he said. Quirico warned against United States intervention in Syria.

"The Americans have made many errors over the last years.

But to carry out an action like this would only strengthen jihadist would be a serious error.

"Our captors were happy at the idea of an American bombardment," he said.

Quirico said that he believed they had originally been captured and sold by the Syrian Free Army.

"We were beaten daily and - I am duty-bound to say this - were only treated well by an al-Qaeda group.

"They were 152 days of imprisonment, small dark rooms where we were fighting against time, fear, humiliation, hunger, lack of pity, two mock executions, two failed escape attempts, the silence of God, family, of others, of life. I was a hostage in Syria, betrayed by the revolution that no longer exists and has become fanaticism and the work of bandits" he said.

Of the many events that took place during his six months as a hostage, he said he was "very intrigued" by Premier Enrico Letta's recently forged left-right government.

"I was received by Premier Letta and I never would have imagined that (PdL Secretary Angelino) Alfano would be standing next to him...but this too is politics," he said.

A government based on a precarious alliance between traditional foes - Letta's own centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party - was forged in April to break a stalemate that left Italy without a government for two months.