The body of Joshua Jones, an American killed in Ukraine, has been returned to Ukrainian custody

The body of Joshua Jones, an American killed in Ukraine, has been returned to Ukrainian custody

Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine

The Russian army returned to Ukrainian custody the body of an American who was killed in August while fighting alongside the Ukrainian army.

A CNN team witnessed the broadcast in the Zaporizhzhia region on Wednesday.

The American is 24-year-old Joshua Jones, who was killed in August. The US State Department has notified Jones’ family of the return of the body, Jones’ father, Jeff Jones, told CNN on Wednesday.

The transfer took place north of Vasilovka, in the Zaporizhzhia region, between Ukraine and Russian-controlled Ukraine. The two sides agreed to a two-hour ceasefire in the no-man’s land between Russia and Ukraine-controlled Ukraine.

A Ukrainian ambulance was on the scene to transport Jones’ body. The Ukrainians said they were able to identify the body by Jones’ tattoos and other identifying features. The Russians also sent photos of the bodies in advance.

On Wednesday, Ukraine freed a Russian soldier as part of a larger exchange, in which 10 Ukrainians have already been freed.

In a tearful phone call, Jeff Jones told CNN, “We got him back!”

“I can’t tell you what a burden has been lifted off this family,” Jones. “I couldn’t give up that hope.”

Jones said he received a message from the International Legion at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning through the Signal app. He said he missed it. At 7 a.m., his son’s fiancee called him with the news.

A little later, the American embassy in Kyiv called him and confirmed his return.

On Wednesday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price offered his condolences to Jones’ family in a statement, saying “the United States appreciates Ukraine’s inclusion of the recovery of this individual’s remains in its negotiations with Russia.”

He added that the remains “will soon be returned to the family”.

Jones’ remains were found in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), a self-proclaimed Russian-backed republic that has ruled a breakaway part of Ukraine’s Donetsk region since 2014.

DPR officials said in August that Jones’ body had been transferred to a regional morgue and that they were ready to they are discussing the transfer of his remains.

Jones has become one of a number of Americans who have been captured or killed in Ukraine since the war broke out in February.

Stephen Zabierslki was killed in May and Marine veteran Willy Cancel was killed in April. In July, the State Department announced two American citizens were killed in Donbass.

Two American veterans, Andy Tai Ngoc Huynh and Alexander John-Robert Drueke, were captured in June while fighting for Ukraine in the Battle of Kharkiv. There was a couple released last month as part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine with the mediation of Saudi Arabia.

CNN previously reported that a third American, US Marine veteran Grady Kurpasi, went missing in June.

Russia is the only country that considers the DNR independent. The international community does not recognize the region and its institutions, and considers the territory part of Ukraine. Independent watchdog groups have long accused the separatists of a poor human rights record and mistreatment of prisoners.

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