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American journalist freed by abductors in Syria

world Updated: Aug 25, 2014 09:57 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
al Qaeda


An American journalist abducted by an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria was released on Sunday after, just a week after James Foley, another journalist, was killed by his captors.

Peter Theo Curtis, 45, spent 22 months in captivity, having gone missing after crossing into Syria in 2012. His release was reportedly negotiated by the Qatari government.

The United Nations said Curtis was handed over to UN peacekeepers in al Rafid village village, Golan Heights, and was handed over to the US after a routine health check.

Curtis was abducted by Jabhat al-Nusrah, an al Qaeda affiliate, that is fighting with other rebels against Syrian forces loyal to president Bashar al Assad.

Jabhat al-Nusrah is a rival of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria which shocked and outraged the world releasing a video last week of the execution of 40-year-old Foley.

"We are so relieved that Theo is healthy and safe and that he is finally headed home after his ordeal," said his mother Nancy Curtis in a statement from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"But we are also deeply saddened by the terrible, unjustified killing last week of his fellow journalist, Jim Foley, at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS," she added.

Continuing outrage over Foley’s execution is mounting pressure on President Obama to expand strikes against the ISIS to cover their safe havens in Syria.

Chairman of the joint chiefs Martin Dempsey said last week the ISIS cannot be defeated without dealing with its positions in Syria, where its leaders run to when attacked.

US continued to strike ISIS in Iraq with its central command launching two airstrikes on the outfit’s positions near Irbil on Sunday, taking up the total of such attacks to 96 since August 8.

Curtis’s return brought some cheer to the country, though tempered by the task at hand. "Just as we celebrate Theo’s freedom, we hold in our thoughts and prayers the Americans who remain in captivity in Syria," said Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice in a statement.

"As President Obama said, we have and will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to see that the remaining American hostages are freed," she added.