Rome: Four Italian journalists have been abducted in northern Syria, Italy`s ANSA news agency reported.
A foreign ministry statement said a crisis response team has been set up to handle the issue.
Italian authorities called the media to be as careful as possible in their reports, citing the safety of the journalists.
"The safety of our compatriots remains our foremost priority," ANSA quoted the statement as saying.
The news came shortly after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed a decree to toughen punishment for kidnapping charges.
Currently, anyone convicted of kidnapping a person will be punished with lifetime hard labour. If a hostage was killed, injured or raped, his or her abductors will be executed.