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Russia says it has found and returned remains of Israeli soldier missing for 37 years

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu in the Kremlin, Feb. 27, 2019. (Kremlin/Released)

President Vladimir Putin says Russian and Syrian soldiers have found the body of an Israeli soldier missing since the 1982 Lebanon War.

Putin made the announcement during a meeting in Moscow on April 4 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He said the remains of Sergeant First Class Zachary Baumel, who had been listed as missing along with two other Israeli soldiers who fought in Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, had been handed over to Israeli officials.

“We are very happy that they will be able to give him the necessary military honors at home and most importantly… that his close relatives will be able to bring flowers to his grave,” Putin said in comments published by the Kremlin.

The U.S.-born Baumel immigrated to Israel along with his parents in 1970.

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He went missing during a battle in the Lebanese village of Sultan Yacoub, near the Syrian border. Some 20 Israeli soldiers were killed in the fight.

Baumel, a tank driver, and two other soldiers, Zvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz, had been listed as missing and presumed dead. The other two remain missing.

“Russian fighters, risking their lives, brought Zachary’s remains to Israeli territory,” Netanyahu said, according to translated comments published on the Kremlin website.