Richard Engel and Abducted NBC News Crew Freed in Syria

After being held prisoner for five days by unidentified captors, the NBC News team was freed following a firefight at a Syrian checkpoint.

NBC News reported early Tuesday that its chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his network production team were freed from captors in Syria following a firefight at a checkpoint on Monday. 

Engel, 39, and his team had been abducted and taken prisoner five days earlier, shortly after they crossed over the border into Syria from Turkey. The network said in a statement that the reporters were thrown into the back of a truck and blindfolded before being transported to an unknown location somewhere near the town of Ma’arrat Misrin. NBC executives were unable to contact them until learning that they had been freed on Monday.

“After being kidnapped and held for five days inside Syria by an unknown group, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his production crew members have been freed unharmed," NBC said in the statement. "We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country."

NBC says the captors have not been identified, but are not believed to be loyalist to the Assad regime. NBC said there were no demands for ransom or claims of responsibility during the time the crew was missing. 

Monday evening in Syria, the prisoners were reportedly being transferred to a new location when their truck encountered a checkpoint protected by the Syrian rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham brigade. A firefight broke out and two of the captors were killed and several others escaped, NBC said. 

According to NBC, none of its staff members were harmed during their abduction and the ensuing encounter. Engel and the crew re-entered Turkey on Tuesday morning, where they contacted the network and family to let them know everyone was in “good health.”

NBC News said it “expressed its gratitude to those who worked to gather information and secure the release of our colleagues.”

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