Richard Engel And Team Freed After Being Held Captive In Syria

By Alex Weprin 

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NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, along with his production team, have been freed after being held captive in Syria. NBC lost communication with the team late last week, and had no contact with Engel or his captors until he had been freed.

The team, comprised of Engel, producer Ghazi Balkiz, camera operator John Kooistra, and freelance journalist Aziz Akyavas had been driving in Syria in a rebel-controlled area, with some of the Syrian rebels. A group of gunmen stormed their vehicle, dragged them from their car, executed one of the rebels, and held them hostage, moving them from safehouse to safehouse. Along the way, they conducted psychological warfare on Engel and his crew, including mock executions.

They were freed when the kidnappers came across a rebel checkpoint, started a gunfight with the rebels, and Engel and his team crawled from the vehicle after two of their captors had been killed. The rebels took Engel and his team to safety, and escorted them to the Turkish border.

It was a harrowing tale, which Engel recounted this morning:

NBC asked news outlets that inquired about Engel’s situation (ourselves included) to not publish about the situation, citing possible threats to their safety.