American journalist Peter Theo Curtis was freed today after being held hostage for two years by Syrian terrorist group Jabhat Al-Nusrah.
Curtis was handed over to United Nations peacekeepers in Al Rafid village in the Golan Heights Sunday evening, local time, according to the U.N. Curtis received a medical check-up before he was handed over to U.S. officials.
Curtis' family had been working with the State Department over the past two years to bring Curtis home.
“My heart is full at the extraordinary, dedicated, incredible people, too many to name individually, who have become my friends and have tirelessly helped us over these many months,” said Theo’s mother, Nancy Curtis. “Please know that we will be eternally grateful.”
"Theo’s mother, whom we’ve known from Massachusetts and with whom we’ve worked during this horrific period, simply refused to give up and has worked indefatigably to keep hope alive that this day could be a reality," Secretary of State John Kerry said today in a statement.
The U.S. reached out to "more than two dozen countries," asking for "tools, influence, or leverage" to bring about Curtis' release, said Kerry.
Curtis will be reunited with his family shortly, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice said in a statement.
President Obama was briefed on his release this morning, said White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
Both Kerry and Rice said that the U.S. is continually working to bring Americans captured and held hostage in Syria home.
Curtis' release comes days after American journalist James Foley was executed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which held him captive for two years.
“We are so relieved that Theo is healthy and safe and that he is finally headed home after his ordeal, but we are also deeply saddened by the terrible, unjustified killing last week of his fellow journalist, Jim Foley, at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS,” said Nancy Curtis.
“I have gotten to know the Foley family during these many long months of uncertainty and worry, and have seen Diane Foley’s bravery and her heroic efforts firsthand, efforts that helped rally the spirits of the families of all the journalists and others being held captive. We appeal to the captors of the remaining hostages to release them in the same humanitarian spirit that prompted Theo’s release. While the family is not privy to the exact terms that were negotiated, we were repeatedly told by representatives of the Qatari government that they were mediating for Theo’s release on a humanitarian basis without the payment of money,” she continued. “My entire focus right now is on helping the other families of those still being held in Syria, and on taking care of my son.”