A freelance photographer with ties to San Diego has been released by the Syrian government after four years, the State Department said Friday.
U.S. officials said Kevin Patrick Dawes, 33, was turned over to authorities from Russia, which has been backing the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the civil war that now is in its sixth year.
The U.S. officials said Dawes was abducted in 2012.
“We are appreciative of efforts on the part of Russia, the Russian government, that it took on behalf of this US citizen in Syria,” said U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner.
The U.S. continues to work through Czech officials in Syria to get information on the welfare and whereabouts of Austin Tice and other U.S. citizens missing and detained in Syria, according to State Department spokesman John Kirby.
The Czech embassy represents U.S. diplomatic interests in Syria.
Kirby declined to give further details on the release. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Tice, of Houston, Texas, disappeared in August 2012 while covering Syria's civil war. A video released a month later showed the journalist blindfolded and held by armed men, saying "Oh, Jesus." He had not been heard from since then.
The Washington Post first reported the release of Dawes and quoted FBI officials as saying that he was taken after crossing into Syria from Turkey. The Post said Dawes recently was permitted to call his family and receive packages.