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Syrian Government Releases Detained American

The Syrian government has released a U.S. citizen who was captured and detained after entering the war-wracked country about four years ago.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner made the announcement on April 8. He refused to identify the American due to privacy considerations, but U.S. officials told AP that he is Kevin Patrick Dawes, a 33-year-old freelance photographer who was captured in 2012.

Toner described the U.S. citizen as a "detainee," not a "hostage," and said he was released in the past few days. He declined to provide information on why he was initially detained.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Dawes was flown to Moscow on April 1 and turned over to the U.S. Embassy there.

"Some time ago, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a personal request for assistance in the search for U.S. citizens who could be in Syrian territory," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters