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NBC correspondent Richard Engel and crew freed in Syria after kidnapping ordeal
By Carol Morello and Debbi Wilgoren, The Washington Post
ANTAKYA, Turkey — NBC News correspondent Richard Engel and his four-person crew have been freed unharmed after being kidnapped inside Syria and subjected to five days of forced moves and death threats.The journalists were released Monday after a gunbattle between their captors and Syrian rebels at a checkpoint manned by the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, NBC said. They crossed safely back into Turkey.
Appearing on the “Today” show Tuesday morning, Engel, 39, said his captors were part of a government militia known as Shabiha, which is loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Engel described the kidnappers as Shiite Muslims trained by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and allied with Hezbollah.
The kidnappers told the journalists that they wanted to exchange them for four Iranian agents and two Lebanese Shabiha members who had been captured by the rebels, Engel said. That plan was thwarted when the kidnappers unwittingly drove into a rebel checkpoint while trying to move the captives to a new location. In the ensuing gunfight, two of the group’s captors were killed.
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