Lebanon secures release of American citizen from Syria

 Lebanon secures release of American citizen from Syria

By Laila Bassam

BEIRUT (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 give the name of the released American, but he was later identified as Sam Goodwin, 30, according to a statement from his parents Thomas and Ann Goodwin.

"We are grateful to be reunited with our son Sam," they said. "Sam is healthy and with his family. We are forever indebted to Lebanese General Abbas Ibrahim and to all others who helped secure the release of our son."

The statement gave no other details, saying, "Right now, we appreciate our privacy as we reconnect with Sam".

The security official said Lebanon's security chief Abbas Ibrahim had conducted the mediation. While not identifying Goodwin as the person released, the official said it was not Austin Tice, a journalist who disappeared in Syria in 2012.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

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 in Beirut; Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Washington. Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Samia Nakhoul and Frances Kerry)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date: Jul 27, 2019 00:06:39 IST