JERUSALEM – An Israeli official says Israel will free two prisoners as a "goodwill gesture" following the return of a soldier who went missing in action over 35 years ago.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said Saturday the release of the prisoners was not a condition for this month's return of the remains of soldier Zachary Baumel. He says the decision was only made in recent days.

Baumel went missing during 1982 Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

The official did not reveal the identities or nationalities of the prisoners. But Russia, which secured the return of Baumel's remains from Syria, said they were Syrian.

Russian envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said the return of Baumel's body was not a "unilateral" action.

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