Three Spanish journalists who had been kidnapped in Syria nearly a year ago returned home to Spain Sunday, the Spanish government said.
The three journalists, Antonio Pampliega, Jose Manuel Lopez and Angel Sastre, went missing in last July near the northwest city of Aleppo. They had all been working for different Spanish media outlets covering the fighting at the time.
The trio flew Sunday from Turkey to a Spanish air base near Madrid onboard a Defense Ministry aircraft. Intervention by the Turkish and Qatari governments and “other allies and friends” greatly aided in winning the reporters’ freedom, according to a government statement.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the reporters were travelling in a van in a rebel-controlled area outside Aleppo on July 13, 2015, when they were stopped and abducted by armed men.
All three of the journalists were experienced war zone correspondents and had all reported from Syria in the past.
According to Reporters Without Borders, a media rights group, Syria is the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. In 2014, three other Spanish journalists, working for the El Mundo newspaper, were released after being taken prisoner by Islamic State extremists for six months.
In the two months following the Spanish reporters’ release, the same group killed two U.S. journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff.