The Seattle-area family of a U.S. citizen released from captivity by the Syrian government said they were grateful for efforts by the U.S. government over the past three years to secure his freedom.

The exact whereabouts of freelance photographer Kevin Patrick Dawes remained unclear, but his family told The Associated Press in a statement Saturday that they that they're thrilled to be welcoming him home.

"We're incredibly grateful for the tireless efforts of the U.S. government over the last three years and the involvement of the Czech and Russian governments in securing Kevin's release," said the statement emailed by Randy Dawes, who identified himself as Kevin's father.

The U.S. State Department said Friday that the Syrian government had released the 33-year-old to authorities from Russia, which has been backing the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the civil war that is in its sixth year.

Dawes, who lived in San Diego, was detained in 2012 in Syria, U.S. officials said.

Family members in Renton, Washington, asked for people to respect their privacy.

"Our thoughts are with the families who have loved ones missing overseas and pray for their safe release," the statement said.

The U.S. continues to work through Czech officials in Syria to get information on the welfare and whereabouts of Austin Tice and other U.S. citizens missing and detained in Syria, State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

Tice, of Houston, disappeared in August 2012 while covering Syria's civil war. A video released a month later showed the journalist blindfolded and held by armed men. He has not been heard from since.