Lebanon secures release of American citizen from Syria - Lebanese security official

by Reuters
Friday, 26 July 2019 14:59 GMT

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BEIRUT, July 26 (Reuters) - Syrian authorities have released a U.S. citizen and he has been handed back to his family, thanks to the mediation of Lebanon, a Lebanese security official said on Friday.

The security official did not reveal the name of the released American, but said it was not Austin Tice, a journalist who disappeared in Syria in 2012.

The official said that Lebanon's security chief Abbas Ibrahim had conducted the mediation.

"Lebanon has worked on mediating through General Abbas Ibrahim to release an American and he was handed over to his family already. The American is not Tice because it is not known where he is," the security official said.

Several U.S. citizens have been held in Syria since the war began there in 2011, including people held by jihadist groups such as Islamic State.

The United States has declined to say who it believes is holding Tice, but has said it believes he is alive and has sought the help of the Syrian government's close ally Russia to free him.

Last year the family of another American, Majd Kamalmaz, told the New York Times that he had disappeared at a government checkpoint in Damascus in 2017.

Last month Ibrahim flew to Iran to complete the release and repatriation of Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen with permanent residency in the United States who was detained there in 2015. (Reporting by Laila Bassam Writing by Angus McDowall Editing by Samia Nakhoul and Frances Kerry)

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