People carry the coffin of Zachary Baumel, a U.S.-born Israeli soldier missing since a 1982 tank battle against Syrian forces and whose remains were recently recovered by Israel, during his funeral at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel will release two prisoners in return for the remains of an Israeli soldier missing since 1982 which were recovered by Russian special forces in Syria, an Israeli official said.
Russia this month handed over the remains and personal effects of Zachary Baumel, who was 21 when he was declared missing in action along with two other soldiers in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.
“Israel has decided to release two prisoners as a goodwill gesture,” the Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Saturday.
The official did not provide details about the identity of the prisoners and said that the decision to release them was made after Baumel’s remains were recovered.
The official was responding to reports by Israeli media that said the prisoners were Syrian. There was no immediate comment from Syrian or Russian authorities.
A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment.
Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Alexander Smith