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Detained US citizen released by Syria with help from Russia

The US State Department has thanked Russia for its assistance in the release of Kevin Patrick Dawes, who was held in Syria for more than three years. The self-styled adventurer had fought with rebel militias in Libya.

The Syrian government released 33-year-old Kevin Patrick Dawes who had been held since 2012 after reportedly crossing into Syria from Turkey. US and Russian officials said Friday Dawes had been transferred on April 1.

"Kevin Dawes was transferred to Moscow in a military plane and handed over to US embassy representatives," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Dawes, from San Diego, California, had been listed by the FBI as a "freelance photographer" although the US media has portrayed him as an adventurer. In 2011, he told a radio interviewer he had taken up arms in Libya and fought alongside rebel forces.

Profile unclear

Kevin Patrick Dawes

An FBI missing persons report said Kevin Dawes travelled from Turkey to Syria in September 2012 and vanished a month later

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the Czech republic, whose embassy in Damascus represents the interests of Americans in Syria, had assisted in facilitating Dawes' release.

But Toner said there had also been direct talks between Damascus and Washington and ultimately it was Moscow's cooperation that helped free Dawes.

"We are appreciative of efforts on the part of the Russian government that it undertook on behalf of this US citizen," Toner told reporters Friday.

A number of US citizens, including

31-year-old photojournalist Austin Tice,

are still reported as missing in Syria. The US has not said how many of its citizens are believed to be held inside the war-torn country.

Reporters Without Borders said it was "delighted that US citizen Kevin Dawes was released and hopeful that US journalist Austin Tice will be free soon."

jar/jm (AFP, AP)

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