THE Burnley-born parents of a tourist detained in Syria are overjoyed at his release from custody after more than eight months.

Kristian Baxter was arrested last November while on a sight-seeing tour, after being found with a metal detector, an item prohibited by the authorities.

His mother Andrea Leclair, a former St Hilda's RC pupil now living in Canada, launched an online campaign to free Kristian after losing contact with him.

Kristian's plight was further hampered by the fact Canada had severed diplomatic ties with Damascus in 2012.

Lebanese security officials are understood to have brokered his release late last week, in a deal similar to the release of US citizen Sam Goodwin recently.

In a news conference after his release, Kristian said: "I thought I would be there forever. I didn't know if anyone knew I was alive."

Later his mother, who also paid tribute to the Lebanese security services and Canadian authorities, said: "I'm ecstatic that Kristian is on his way home."

The 45-year-old visited Burnley, also the hometown of his father, Kenneth Baxter, often and set up a Facebook history page, Burnley Lancashire Now and Then.