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Kevin Patrick Dawes, American Missing in Syria Since 2012, Has Been Freed: Reports

The Washington Post and Associated Press identified the American as Kevin Patrick Dawes, 33.
Kevin Patrick Dawes in 2012
Kevin Patrick Dawes in 2012FBI

Syrian authorities have released an American prisoner, U.S. officials said Friday.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said he could "confirm and welcome the news that a U.S. citizen was released by Syrian authorities."

He did not provide further details, citing privacy concerns, but the Washington Post and Associated Press identified the American as Kevin Patrick Dawes, 33.

Dawes traveled to Syria in September 2012 via Turkey and was last heard from the next month, according to the FBI.

The Russian government said Friday it helped arrange the release of Dawes.

"Some time ago, the US President Barack Obama has made a personal request of Russian President Vladimir Putin to assist the search for American citizens who might be on the Syrian territory," Russian Foreign Ministry representative Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

"In response to our request, the Syrian authorities have found it possible to show mercy and release the American on humanitarian considerations," Zakharova said. The representative said Dawes was flown to Moscow on April 1 and handed over to the U.S. embassy.

Kevin Patrick Dawes in 2012FBI

Dawes' Twitter account from the time was filled with re-tweets of articles about rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad and potential regime crimes.

The last activity on the account was posted on Oct. 2, 2012 — a retweet of a message claiming Assad's forces had abducted civilians.

Dawes ended up in one of Syria's political prisons, according to a lengthy profile in Vanity Fair.

While the FBI describes Dawes as a freelance photographer, prior to his detention in Syria, Dawes had taken up arms with a ragtag militia in Libya battling forces loyal to then-leader Moammar Gadhafi.

He told NPR in a 2011 interview that he'd initially gone into Libya as an aid worker but then joined the fight.

When asked why he went he told NPR it was to "See the world, experience new things, get in way over my head, but, you know, ultimately survive."

There is at least one American still missing in Syria — freelance photographer Austin Tice.

Shortly after news of Dawes' reported release broke, an account advocating for Tice release posted a message on Twitter.

"The Dawes' private, painful ordeal is finally over," the #FreeAustinTice account said. "We are delighted for Kevin & his family."