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Japanese journalist Yasuda released from militant captivity in Syria: Govt. spokesman

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A still image captured from an online video shows a man believed to be Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who went missing in Syria in June 2015, asking for help. (Photo by Kyodo news agency)

A high-ranking Japanese official says freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda, who was captured by members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, Takfiri terrorist group in northern Syria three years ago, is believed to have been released and is now in Turkey.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Tuesday night that Qatari authorities had informed Japan that Yasuda had been released.

He added that the 44-year-old Japanese journalist was at an immigration facility in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, and that Japanese Embassy workers were heading there.

Suga highlighted that Tokyo was making checks to confirm that the man was in fact Yasuda.

The Japanese government spokesman went on to say that the possibility that it was him was very high, adding that the government had already notified Yasuda’s wife of the release.

Yasuda’s wife voiced hope over the news.

“If the information is true, I want to tell him, ‘You did it, you’re free. Everyone has been waiting for you,'” she was quoted as saying by Japan’s official news agency Kyodo.

Yasuda went missing in June 2015 after he crossed into Syria’s Idlib province from neighboring Turkey to cover the foreign-sponsored militancy in the Arab country.

He was later taken hostage by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham militants. The extremists reportedly sought a $10 million ransom for his release.

In March 2016, footage of a man believed to be Yasuda reading out an English message to his family and home country was posted online

Two months later, another video was uploaded. It showed a bearded man that appeared to be the missing journalist holding a sheet of paper with a handwritten message that said in Japanese, “Please help. This is my last chance.”

Last July, two videos were posted online in which a man believed to be Yasuda appealed for help.

In one of them, the man is seen clad in an orange jumpsuit and kneeling in front of a wall, as two black-clad militants wearing balaclava-like masks stand behind him wielding machine-guns.

Slain Syrian correspondent Mustafa Salamah

On July 17, a Syrian journalist working for pro-government Sama television channel lost his life while covering territorial advances made by government forces and allied fighters from popular defense groups in battles against foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists near the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that Mustafa Salamah was killed as army troops and their allies were moving deeper into Tal Mashara area in the eastern countryside of Syria’s strategic southwestern province of Quneitra.

Salamah was fatally shot as government troops and allied fighters were engaged in fierce exchanges of gunfire with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

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