According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, Elizabeth Tsurkov, a dual Israeli-Russian Princeton doctoral student who vanished in Iraq while conducting academic research, was abducted by an Iran-backed militia in Iraq. The prime minister’s office asserts that Tsurkov is still alive and holds Iraq responsible for her safety and well-being.

Tsurkov, who specializes in Middle East studies with a focus on war-torn Syria, works as a fellow at New Lines Institute, a Washington-based think tank, and is an expert on regional affairs.

Tsurkov, using her Russian passport due to the lack of diplomatic relations between Israel and Iraq, traveled to Iraq individually to conduct research for her doctorate and on behalf of Princeton University.

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Elizabeth Tsurkov smiling

Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli researcher, was kidnapped in Iraq by a radical Shi’ite militia. (Elizabeth Tsurkov/Facebook)

The university officials have not yet responded to inquiries regarding the incident.

Tsurkov used her Russian passport because her Israeli passport would not allow her entry into Iraq, given the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

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According to Netanyahu, Tsurkov is being held captive by the Iran-backed Shiite militia Kataeb Hezbollah, which was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government in 2009.

Kataeb Hezbollah’s founder and leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in January 2020 near Baghdad’s international airport. The airstrike was ordered by then President Trump and also resulted in the death of top Iranian general, Gen. Qassem Suleimani.

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