An American citizen who was detained by the Syrian government has been released following mediation between Beirut and Damascus, a Lebanese security official said Friday. 

Sam Goodwin, 30,  was detained in the northern Syrian city of Qamishli in May after apparently mistakenly coming across a government checkpoint. 

According to reports from the time of his disappearance, Mr Goodwin was visiting Syria as part of an effort to visit every country in the world. 

Qamishli, in the northeast corner of Syria, is under the control of Kurdish forces opposed to the government, and is considered relatively safe compared to the rest of the country. But the Syrian government maintains a number of checkpoints in the city, and controls the city’s only airport.

The Lebanese official told Reuters that Lebanon’s security chief Abbas Ibrahim had mediated with the Syrian government for the release. 

“Lebanon has worked on mediating through General Abbas Ibrahim to release an American and he was handed over to his family already,” the security official said.

Mr Goodwin’s family told ABC News shortly after this release that he was “healthy and with his family. We are forever indebted to Lebanese General Abbas Ibrahim and to all others who helped secure the release of our son. We will have more to say at a later date.”

At the time of the disappearance, a State Department spokesperson told The Independent: “The safety and security of US citizens is our highest priority. Due to privacy and security considerations, we have no additional information to share at this time.”

Several US citizens have been held in Syria since the war began there in 2011, including people held by jihadist groups such as Islamic State.

Austin Tice, a journalist who disappeared in Syria in 2012, is thought to be held by the government. Last year the family of another American, Majd Kamalmaz, told the New York Times that he had disappeared at a government checkpoint in Damascus in 2017.

 — With Reuters  


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