Five staffers with the medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders were removed from their house in northern Syria on Thursday night, a spokesman confirmed to NBC News.
The five were seized “allegedly for questioning,” said media relations representative, Michael Goldfarb. The group, known officially as Medecins Sans Frontieres, has struggled to contact the staff, according to Reuters.
“For the safety of our staff we cannot provide any more information at this time,” Goldfarb said in a statement without specifying whether MSF officials knew specifically what “group” wanted to question the five staffers.
While Goldfarb also did not share the identities of the detainees, he did say in the statement that MSF operates six hospitals and four health care centers in northern Syria. “In addition, MSF provides assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Turkey,” he said.
Refugees have fled Syria in an effort to escape the violence of the country’s civil war, which began in 2011 when rebels incited protests in an effort to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad's presidency.
Assad still controls portions of northern Syria, but rebels have seized part of his territory there, adding to the unrest.
More than 100,000 people have been killed by the violence, including 12 U.N. staff members. Twenty one U.N. staffers were detained in the country as of November, according to a U.N. document.
MSF sends medical personnel to ailing and deprived sections of the world. Over 700 international and Syrian MSF workers are stationed in Syria, according to a document on the non-profit’s website that was updated in November 2013.
Reuters contributed to this report.