Iraq opened an investigation into the case of a dual Israeli-Russian academic who has been missing in Iraq since March, a government spokesman said Friday.
Bassem al-Awadi’s comments were the first official Iraqi statements since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Wednesday that Elizabeth Tsurkov is still alive “and we hold Iraq responsible for her safety and well-being.”
Netanyahu said Tsurkov is being held by the Shiite group Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, a powerful Iran-backed group that the U.S. government listed as a terrorist organization in 2009.
Tsurkov, whose work focuses on the Middle East, and specifically war-torn Syria, is an expert on regional affairs and has been widely quoted over the years by international media. Tsurkov last tweeted on March 21.
Tsurkov, who is pursuing a doctorate at Princeton University, is a fellow at the Washington-based think tank New Lines Institute.