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Family: US-born student held in Syria freed

The family of a 21-year-old who disappeared for three weeks after returning to Syria from suburban Detroit says he's been released by Syrian authorities.
This undated family photo provided by Dr. Firas Nashef shows 21-year-old Obada Mzaik of Michigan.
This undated family photo provided by Dr. Firas Nashef shows 21-year-old Obada Mzaik of Michigan.AP
/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

A 21-year-old student who vanished three weeks ago after returning to Syria from suburban Detroit has been set free by Syrian authorities, his family said on Wednesday.

Obada Mzaik, who has both Syrian and U.S. citizenship, was detained in Damascus on Jan. 3 after spending several months in the United States.

He was released about 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday to his father, his uncle, Dr. Firas Nashef. told the Detroit News.

"We're grateful that he's back with his family, and we're grateful to the community for showing support to the family during difficult days," Nashef, a Farmington Hills dentist, said in a statement.

Mzaik, a native of Columbus, Ohio, was planning to study at a Syrian university after temporarily living in Michigan with his brother.

The State Department had said it was aware of the matter and was working with authorities in Syria. On Jan. 11, the U.S. urged Americans to leave Syria.