Israel frees two as 'goodwill' for return of soldier's remains from Syria

Russia, a key ally of Syria, in April handed Israel the remains and personal effects of Zachary Baumel, who was declared missing in action along with two other Israeli soldiers following a 1982 tank battle with Syrian forces in Lebanon.

Israel's prime minister's office said the two men released are from Majdal Shams, a Druze village in Golan Heights territory Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

Both men were released "before the end of their imprisonment" in coordination with the Israeli military, the statement said.

The move follows Israel's release in April of two Syrian prisoners, which it also called a goodwill gesture for the return of Baumel's body after it was discovered by Russian special forces in Syria.