NBC News has revealed that chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and members of his production team were freed from Syrian captors on Monday, after a firefight at a checkpoint. The group disappeared last Thursday, shortly after crossing into northwest Syria from Turkey. NBC had been attempting to enforce a news blackout, but Engel’s kidnapping was outed Monday afternoon following online reports by the Turkish media. The captors were unidentified and not believed to be loyal to the Assad regime, NBC News said, adding that there had been no contact with them, nor any calls for ransom during the five-day period. Two of the kidnappers were killed during a confrontation Monday evening when they were moving the prisoners to a new location and ran into a checkpoint manned by members of a Syrian rebel group. Despite having been blindfolded and bound during their captivity, Engel and the production team were said to be unharmed and have been safely moved out of Syria. Engel is arguably the best-known foreign news correspondent on U.S. TV and is widely experienced in the Middle East. He has been with NBC News since 2003 and was named chief foreign correspondent in 2008.
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