Two French journalists kidnapped in Syria alive

French journalists Didier Francois and Edouard Elias are said to be alive after being kidnapped in Syria last month.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Paris is now working for their release.

Francois, 53, a seasoned war reporter with Europe 1 radio, and 22-year-old photographer Elias, were taken after being stopped at a checkpoint on the road to Aleppo.

It was unclear who was holding them.

"Every effort is being made to ensure that the conditions for their release can be met very quickly," Le Drian told journalists.

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"We know they are alive and we are stepping up our efforts," he said. "In the interests of everyone, especially those two, I cannot say any more."

President Francois Hollande also said later on French TV that "we're doing everything to find where they are, to know exactly the intentions of their captors."

A group of journalists and supporters called for the release of the two journalists when they renewed their campaign last week.

In addition to Francois and Elias, five French citizens are still being held in North Africa, along with a Frenchman in Mali and another in Nigeria.

Hollande has said, however, that Philippe Verdon, who was kidnapped in Mali in 2011, is apparently dead.