Calif. freelance photographer freed from Syria after 2012 abduction

A California freelance photographer abducted in Syria in 2012 was finally freed and allowed to return home, a U.S. official confirmed to Fox News Friday.

Kevin Patrick Dawes, 33, is originally from San Diego, officials tell The Washington Post. The release followed months of negotiations, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The U.S. had "periodic contact" with the Syrian government and Russia helped with the release, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters. He did not confirm the Russian Foreign Ministry's claim that Dawes was taken to Moscow and handed to the U.S. embassy there before leaving Russia.

Syria chose to release Dawes on "humanitarian grounds," the Russian Foreign Ministry added.

“We can confirm and welcome the news that a U.S. citizen was released by Syrian authorities,” spokesman John Kirby said. “The United States continues to work through every possible means to ensure the safe release of U.S. citizens reported missing or taken hostage in Syria.”

Dawes recently had been permitted to call his family and receive care packages, the Post adds. Kirby said U.S. officials had also worked with the Czech mission in Damascus, since the American embassy there closed in 2012.

A handful of Americans are missing or believed to be held in the embattled country, including former U.S. Marine-turned journalist Austin Tice. Tice was initially believed to be held by Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra, but may have later been transferred to another party. Other Americans held in Syria have not been identified through official channels.

Fox News' Jennifer Griffin, Lucas Tomlinson and Jonathan Wachtel contributed to this report.