The Israeli army says it has recovered the body of a soldier who went missing in a bloody 1982 battle with Syrian forces in southern Lebanon.

Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said Wednesday that the remains of Zachary Baumel had been returned to Israel and identified after nearly four decades of intelligence operations.

Conricus declined to elaborate on how the return was arranged or where the remains were found, saying only that "an opportunity arose to locate the body."

Baumel, a U.S. citizen from New York, went missing in action along with five other Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese village of Sultan Yacoub. Several years later, two of the missing soldiers were returned alive to Israel in prisoner exchanges, but the fate of the other three had remained unknown.