Italy's foreign minister has denied reports that Italy paid $12 million in ransom to free two young aid workers held for five months in Syria.

Hours after 21-year-old Greta Ramelli and 20-year-old Vanessa Marzullo landed in Rome Friday, Paolo Gentiloni told lawmakers that the reports "were void of any basis in reality and in some cases spread by terrorists."

The Dubai-based broadcaster Al Aan reported that Italy paid $12 million, sparking debate in Italy about ransom payments and drawing harsh words from opposition politicians.

Gentiloni told the lower house that Italy is "against payment of ransom" and follows "the rules and behaviors" shared by the international community.

The women were kidnapped overnight July 31, on their third visit to the country.