Italian humanitarian workers feared kidnapped in Aleppo
Vanessa Marzullo, left, and Greta Ramelli are feared kidnapped in Aleppo, SyriaVanessa Marzullo/Greta Ramelli

The father of an aid worker kidnapped with her colleague by Syrian Islamists said the pair "wanted only good" and had travelled to the country to help civilians caught up in the brutal civil war.

Greta Ramelli, 20, and Vanessa Marzullo, 21, were working on humanitarian projects in Aleppo, said the Italian foreign ministry.

Jordanian newspaper Assabeel reports that investigators believe the kidnappers are from an Islamist group that has previously kidnapped Western activists and journalists.

According to activists quoted in the report, the women were kidnapped on 1 August and taken to the town of El Ismo, west of Aleppo, from where they were taken to the home of the head of the local Revolutionary Council.

Miss Marzullo's father today told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera that he had pleaded with his daughter not to travel to Syria, but she had not listened.

"What could I do? Vanessa is an adult, a golden girl, brave and responsible. I tried to reason with her; I tried to convince her in every way I could not to do what she had in mind.

"But when you realize that all your talk, your thoughts and eventually all your prayers are not heard, what can you do?" he said.

"I could not stop her from doing what she wanted. It's not like you can take a person and tie them down. Tell me what I had to do. Was I wrong? I had to tie her down?

"Those who made Vanessa and Greta prisoners should remember what they were there to do. They wanted good and it would be a tragedy if they were repaid with evil."

He said that his daughter had said: "It is not with weapons you win a war, it is won with great ideals and great gestures."

Her father said that she had long sympathised with the plight of ordinary Syrians, and while studying Linguistics and Cultural Mediation at Milan University, formed the resolution to travel to the country to help.

The two women have made numerous visits to Syria since 2012, they say on their Facebook pages.

They last made their way into the country through Turkey, where they crossed the border at the Atma refugee camp.

Miss Marzullo's latest Facebook post reads: "Red, red like that crib, and in the crib the battered little body of the girl of Aleppo whose legs were pulverised by an explosion.

"Red like the bloodstains encrusted on the walls and the floor - in the corner of the room where you have been tortured until you want to die, until you die in an unspeakably horrible way."

Italian officials are reported to be engaged in delicate negotiations to secure the release of the women.