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Elizabeth Tsurkov, Israeli-Russian researcher, kidnapped in Iraq

In the first public confirmation of the March abduction, the Israeli prime minister said today that the researcher is alive.
An undated image of Tsurkov.

Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli-Russian researcher with deep knowledge of the Levant who was abducted on March 21 in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, is alive, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Wednesday. 

The statement said that Iraq was "responsible” for the safety of Tsurkov, who was finalizing research for her doctoral thesis on patronage networks for Princeton University, and that the "relevant authorities" in Israel are handling the case.

Tsurkov, 36, is being held by Kataib Hezbollah, the prime minister's statement noted. The group is a radical Iran-backed Shiite paramilitary group that is part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) formed to fight the Islamic State.

Earlier, regional officials speaking not for attribution had told Al-Monitor that the likely culprit was Asaib Ahl al-Haqq, another paramilitary group under the PMU. 

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