American journalist Charles Glass, exuberant after his dramatic escape from two months' captivity in Lebanon, was handed over by Syria yesterday to the US Embassy staff here. Embracing colleagues at the handover in the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Mr. Glass thanked Syria, said he felt fine, and added: ``I'm glad to be here with you.''
Glass, who had lost weight but seemed well, later left with the United States charg'e d'affaires to await a charter flight to Britain, where his wife and five children live.
Glass declined to discuss his captivity. But Beirut police said he escaped from his guards in the early hours yesterday, close to where he was seized two months ago in Shiite Muslim southern Beirut.
His wife, Fiona, said in Britain that Glass told her by phone how he locked his sleeping guards in the 10th floor apartment where he was held, climbed through a window, and ran down an outside stairway.
Glass walked into the Summerland Hotel unshaven and wearing a blue track suit. He then contacted Syrian forces controlling Muslim west Beirut, who whisked him away to Damascus.
``Your abduction was an unacceptable challenge. Syria has made intensified eforts to secure your freedom,'' Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Sharaa said at a ceremony.
Syrian President Hafez Assad, Mr. Faraa said, had been very concerned, ``especially as Mr. Glass's kidnap took place in West Beirut, which is supposed to be secure.''
Glass was the first foreigner kidnapped after 7,000 Syrian troops entered Muslim West Beirut in February to end street battles and three years of militia anarchy.
Mr. Assad had ordered the Syrian Army's military intelligence chief in Lebanon to lead the search for Glass and Ali Osseiran, the son of Lebanon's defense minister, who was seized with him on June 17 and released a week later.
``I'm very grateful to the Syrian government for the efforts they made for my release,'' said Glass, a former ABC television news reporter.
A militia source said the kidnappers might have deliberately allowed Glass to escape as part of a deal between Syria and Iran. ``Syrian officials have had intensive talks with the Iranians ... and with Lebanese Shiites over the past week,'' the source said.
Nine Americans are among 28 foreigners still missing and believed kidnapped in Lebanon. Many are believed held by pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim militants.
FOREIGNERS MISSING IN LEBANON AMERICANS Terry Anderson: Chief Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press; kidnapped March 16, 1985. Believed held by Islamic Jihad. Thomas Sutherland: Acting dean of agriculture at American University of Beirut; seized June 9, 1985. Reportedly held by Islamic Jihad. Faik Wareh: Businessman of Syrian origin, US passport. Reported missing on June 29, 1986. Frank Herbert Reed: Director of the Lebanese International School; abducted in Beirut Sept. 9, 1986. Pro-Libyan Arab Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility. Joseph James Cicippio: Acting comptroller at the American University of Beirut; kidnapped Sept. 12, 1986. Arab Revolutionary Cells and Revolutionary Justice Organization claimed responsibility. Edward Austin Tracy: Writer and longtime Beirut resident; seized in Beirut Oct. 21, 1986. Revolutionary Justice Organization too responsibility. Alann Steen: Journalism professor at Beirut University College; kidnapped Jan. 24, 1987. Jesse Turner: Assistant instructor of mathematics and computer sciences at Beirut University College; kidnapped Jan. 24, 1987. Robert Polhill: Assistant business professor at Beirut University College; kidnapped Jan. 24, 1987.
(Islamic Holy War for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for above three.)
FRENCH Roger Auque: Free-lance reporter and photographer; kidnapped Jan. 13, 1987 in Muslim west Beirut. Marcel Fontaine: French diplomat; kidnapped March 22, 1985. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Marcel Carton: French Embassy official; kidnapped March 22, 1985. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Michel Seurat: Researcher at French Center for Studies and Research on the Contemporary Middle East in Beirut; kidnapped May 22, 1985. Islamic Jihad's claim that it has executed him is unconfirmed. Jean-Paul Kauffmann: Correspondent for a French weekly; abducted May 22, 1985. Jean-Louis Normandin: Lighting engineer for French Antenne-2 television crew; seized March 8, 1986.
WEST GERMANS Rudolf Cordes: businessman; seized Jan. 17, 1987. Alfred Schmidt: engineer; abducted Jan. 20, 1987.
BRITISH Alec Collett: British journalist and UN consultant; abducted March 25, 1985. Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Muslims claims it killed him. John Patrick McCarthy: British TV cameraman; kidnapped April 17, 1986. Revolutionary Commando Cells claimed responsibility. Terry Waite: Anglican Church envoy; not seen since Jan. 20, 1987, when he went to negotiate with Isamic Jihad for the release of other foreign hostages.
OTHERS Mithileshwar Singh: Indian business and finance professor at Beirut University College; kidnapped with three Americans on Jan. 24, 1987. Brian Keenan: Irish professor at American University of Beirut; disappeared April 11, 1986. Alberto Molinari: Italian businessman; seized Sept. 11, 1985. Do Chae-Sung: South Korean Embassy official; seized Jan. 31, 1986.