Elizabeth Tsurkov

Iran Involved In Abduction Of Russian-Israeli Academic In Iraq

Friday, 07/07/2023

The Islamic Republic has been involved in the abduction in Iraq of a Russian-Israeli academic, an Iraqi official has told Israeli media.

While the Iran-backed militant group Kata'ib Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Tsurkov, a Russian-Israeli academic and a PhD student at Princeton, an Iraqi official told Israel's Channel 11 that Elizabeth Tsurkov was arrested by Iraq's intelligence service - or someone posing as such - before being handed to Iran-backed Kata'ib Hezbollah which has been holding her for months.

On Thursday, a commander of the Iran-backed group had denied any involvement in the abduction. The Iraqi government spokesman also told Reuters on Friday that investigations are being carried out into the incident.

An expert on regional proxies across the Middle East including Turkey's proxies in Syria, she had traveled to several of the region's terror hotspots. Israel's Prime Minister's Office released a statement which confirmed Tsurkov is still alive, adding that the situation is being handled by the relevant bodies in Israel.

Tsurkov's mother Irena said they lost contact two months ago. "From what I had known until today, she was in Turkey, working on her research for Princeton. I didn't even know she was in Iraq," she told Israel's N12 News.

Israeli citizens are forbidden from traveling to Iraq — an enemy state where Kataib Hezbollah is one of the most powerful Iran-backed militia groups, with a history of attacking US targets in the area.

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