NBC News correspondent Richard Engel is now back at home after a harrowing ordeal in Syria. The foreign journalist was kidnapped along with three colleagues last Thursday and freed last night.
"We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country," NBC said in a statement. The organization finally announced that Engel and his colleagues were "freed from captors in Syria after a firefight at a checkpoint on Monday, five days after they were taken prisoner."
At first, NBC asked for a media blackout on the kidnapping in order to prevent further harm. They did not want the kidnappers to get a sense of how important or popular Engel is and thereby physically hold him longer or possibly harm him and the crew.
Now Engel and NBC are releasing details about the ordeal. Engel and crew were crossing into northwest Syria when they were taken hostage by a regime Engel now says he believes "were a Shiite militia group loyal to the Syrian government," he told the Associated Press.
The news team was blindfolded and placed in the back of a truck when they were stopped at a checkpoint by members of the Ahrar al-Sham regime, a Syrian rebel group. The two groups exchanged gunfire, and two of the kidnappers were killed. Others managed to escape, and the rebel group took Engel and his team under their supervision.
The victims were driven to the border and re-entered Turkey early Tuesday morning. Thankfully all were found to be in good health and were debriefed before being released to their families and friends.
NBC issued a statement of gratitude "to those who worked to gather information and secure the release of our colleagues."
Engel is no stranger to dangerous situations; he has spent time in both Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Egyptian uprising, Arab Spring and most recently, Syria. He has made official contacts in the country that does not allow media coverage and provides vital information to the United States about conditions in Syria.