A Canadian citizen held in Syria since last year was released in Lebanon on Friday through the mediation of Lebanese General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.
Kristian Lee Baxter broke down in tears at a news conference in Beirut, saying he thought he would be held forever.
He appeared alongside Ibrahim, who last month mediated the release of US citizen Sam Goodwin from Syria, and Canadian Ambassador Emmanuelle Lamoureux.
Baxter was detained in Syria in 2018. It was unclear what he was doing in the country at the time of his detention.
Ibrahim said Baxter had been detained “for reasons related to breaking Syrian law”. Lamoureux thanked Lebanon’s head of General Security but said she could not give any details about the case.
“I thought I would be there forever,” Baxter said, thanking the Canadian Embassy and Lebanese authorities for helping him get out of Syria. “I didn’t know if anyone knew if I was alive,” he added, and then began to sob, cutting short his comments.
Several Western citizens have been held in Syria since the civil war began there in 2011, including some by extremist groups such as ISIS.
The United States has said it believes US journalist Austin Tice, who has been held in Syria since 2012, is alive and Washington has sought the help of the Syrian regime’s ally Russia to free him.
Last year the family of another American, Majd Kamalmaz, told the New York Times that he had disappeared at a government checkpoint in Damascus in 2017.