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NBC crew's captors appeared loyal to Syria regime

This undated photo provided by NBC News shows Richard Engel at the end of a reporting trip in Syria in July 2012. NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and his production team were released unharmed Tuesday after being held captive for five days inside Syria by an "unknown group," the network says. Engel, 39, has been reporting on the Syrian civil war. (AP Photo/NBC News)

BEIRUT (AP) -- NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel says he believes the gunmen who kidnapped him and his crew in Syria were a Shiite militia group loyal to the Syrian government.

NBC said Tuesday that Engel and members of his production crew were freed unharmed a day earlier following a firefight at a checkpoint in Syria. The team was taken prisoner Thursday.

Engel told NBC's "Today" show Tuesday that the captors "were talking openly about their loyalty to the government." He said his captors executed at least one of his rebel escorts on the spot at the time they were captured.

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