NBC's Engel Details 5 Days in Syria Captivity
Foreign correspondent and team were rescued yesterday
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Dec 18, 2012 5:39 AM CST
Updated Dec 18, 2012 9:38 AM CST
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(Newser) – Five days after their kidnapping in Syria, an NBC News team has been "freed unharmed," the network says. "We are pleased to report they are safely out of the country." The release of chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his crew followed a firefight at a checkpoint yesterday, NBC News reports. The group had been out of contact since entering northwest Syria from Turkey on Thursday. This morning, Engel described the attack on the Today show. While his team was traveling with Syrian rebels, some 15 gunmen "jumped out the trees and bushes" to kidnap them. One of the rebels was immediately executed.

While they were held, "we weren't physically beaten or tortured. It was a lot of psychological torture, threats of being killed," Engel said. "They made us choose which one of us would be shot first and when we refused there were mock shootings." Engel believes the captors were part of the Assad loyalist militia "shabiha"; they spoke "openly about their loyalty to the government." The captors hoped to use the crew to win back rebel-held prisoners, Engel said. Last night, their captors hit a rebel checkpoint while transporting them. Two of the captors died in a firefight, while an unknown number of others escaped. The crew stayed in Syria overnight and returned to Turkey this morning, the network reports.

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AlexanderArgentina
Dec 18, 2012 3:06 PM CST
Terrorists, Including Leader of So-Called al-Mujahideen Battalion, Killed, Gunmen Gatherings Destroyed Military units on Monday killed several terrorists and seized their weapons during an operation carried out against their gatherings in al-Dhyabiyeh town in Damascus countryside. An official source told SANA reporter that leader of the so-called "al-Mujahideen Battalion,'' Ghassab al-Manzouri, nicknamed al-Zarkawi, was killed during the operation, in addition to three other terrorists. The army eliminated scores of terrorists and seized their weapons in Hijjera. An official source told SANA reporter that terrorists Omar al-Lwisi, Burhan Abu Aysha and Ahmad Qarqoush were identified among the dead. The source added that a factory for making IEDs and missiles was also destroyed in the area. In al-Akshak in Hijjera, an army unit clashed with and killed a number of terrorists and destroyed a Mortar, the source said. Another army unit eliminated a number of terrorists in Erbeen town, Damascus countryside, and destroyed their vehicles. An official source told SANA reporter that four terrorists, who were perpetrating killing, sabotaging and looting acts, were killed in Ghber yard in the town. The Armed Forces destroyed a warehouse for weapons and ammunition used by the terrorists in their attacks and crimes in al-Huseinyeh in Damascus Countryside. An official source told SANA reporter that a vehicle equipped with a heavy machinegun was also destroyed and the terrorists in it were killed. The source added that several terrorists' hideouts in the areas were destroyed.
AlexanderArgentina
Dec 18, 2012 3:06 PM CST
Army General Command: Armed Forces, along with Syrian people, Carry out War of Defending Homeland General Command of the Army and Armed Forces on Monday said that the satellite channels which are partners in shedding the Syrian blood broadcast today a group of misleading news stating that terrorist groups have captured a number of military posts in Aleppo and Daraa provinces. The General command added in a statement that in order to not allow those channels to mislead the citizens, it affirms the following: Concerning Handarat Battalion of the Air Defense, it came under an attack by a terrorist group who has been able, after fierce clashes with the guard members, to storm parts of the battalion, but a unit of the armed forces has been capable, two days ago, of liberating all parts of the battalion, evacuating it and protecting its members and equipment. Regarding an armed group's attack on warehouses of Khan Toman in Aleppo countryside, terrorists attacked one of the buildings affiliated to the warehouses and stormed it, but the guard members have been able to dismiss the terrorists and eliminate most of them, while the others escaped. As for the terrorists' control on Brigade 34 in al-Lajat in Daraa, an armed group has attempted to attack the wall of the brigade, but the guards were capable of repelling them after killing a big number of them and injuring many others. The Army General Command stressed that the armed heroic forces, along with the Syrian people, are carrying out the war of defending the homeland with firm determination to victory, adding "The army is committed to put the citizen in front of the reality of what is happening on field.. it also has confidence that the campaign of lies and fabrications would not target the determination of people who have long defeated invaders.
AlexanderArgentina
Dec 18, 2012 3:05 PM CST
Restaurants in Old City of Damascus Still Home for Damascus Lovers As Damascus has always been the land of civilizations and history, its veins are still beating with life in spite of pain thanks to the determination of its people who adored its streets and alleys and the smell of jasmine and the Damascene rose. In spite of the current circumstances going on in Syria and the cold weather, the old city of Damascus is living normal life as its restaurants are witnessing turnout from people who come to enjoy the charming atmosphere of the city accompanied by their families and friends. In the neighborhood of Bab Touma in the old city of Damascus, restaurants receive large groups of youths who come for entertainment and to exchange viewpoints. Darin, a girl in her thirties, says that she comes every Friday to meet her friends in one of Bab Touma restaurants. "In spite of the current painful events in Syria, the love for life and determination to go on push me to come here", she added. With his laptop on the table surfing the internet to follow up the latest news, Samir said that he always come to Antique Restaurant in spite of the current situation, adding that he believes that Syria will remain strong thanks to its people's determination to continue their work and practice their daily habits. Michael, young man from Damascus, said these restaurants preserve the ancient oriental aspects which give a feeling of comfort and amity. Yehya, a worker at Antique Restaurant, said that people are still coming to the restaurant as normal in spite of the current circumstances, adding that he has good relations with the customers.