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Saturday February 13th, 2016 8:41PM
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US says American held in Syria has been freed

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- An American journalist kidnapped and held hostage for nearly two years by an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria was released Sunday, less than a week after the horrific execution of American journalist James Foley by Islamic militants.<br /> <br /> The freed American is 45-year-old Peter Theo Curtis of Massachusetts, who wrote under the byline Theo Padnos.<br /> <br /> White House national security adviser Susan Rice said Curtis is now safe outside of Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry said Curtis was held by Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida-linked militant group fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.<br /> <br /> Curtis was not believed to be among the hostages held by the Islamic State group that executed Foley. Islamic State was formally disavowed by al-Qaida earlier this year after being deemed too brutal.<br /> <br /> President Barack Obama, who was wrapping up a vacation in Massachusetts, was briefed Sunday morning on Curtis' release.<br /> <br /> "The president shares in the joy and relief that we all feel now that Theo is out of Syria and safe," said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. "But we continue to hold in our thoughts and prayers the Americans who remain in captivity in Syria, and we will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to see that the remaining American hostages are freed."<br /> <br /> A senior administration official said Curtis was released in the Golan Heights, where he was met by U.S. government personnel who were transporting him to Tel Aviv. The official was not authorized to speak by name and discussed the release on the condition of anonymity.
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