France-based Reporters Without Borders (RWB) on Tuesday withdrew comments claiming a Japanese freelance journalist is being held hostage by an armed group in Syria, following criticism the premature announcement could endanger his life.

"The release was not drafted according to normal procedure and was not sufficiently verified. It has therefore been withdrawn pending fuller information," RWB said in relation to a press release issued last week about the alleged kidnapping of war correspondent Jumpei Yasuda.

"We ask Yasuda's family and friends, and the families of other hostages in Syria, to accept our apologies," the group said.