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Syria denies it is holding American journalist Austin Tice

Damascus, Syria — Syria denied on Wednesday it is holding U.S. journalist Austin Tice or different Americans after President Biden accused the Syrian authorities of detaining him.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry stated in an announcement that Damascus “denies it had kidnapped or is holding any American citizen on its territories.”

“The U.S. issued last week misleading and illogical statements by the American president and secretary of state that included baseless accusations against Syria that it had kidnapped or detained American citizens including former U.S. Marine Austin Tice,” the assertion stated.

Mr. Biden’s feedback final week got here in an announcement launched by the White House to mark the tenth anniversary of Tice’s abduction, which occurred when he was in Syria protecting its prolonged battle. Biden’s remarks had been the clearest indication to date that the U.S. is sure Tice is being held by the federal government of President Bashar Assad.

“We know with certainty that he has been held by the Government of Syria,” Mr. Biden stated in his assertion final week. “We have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home.”

State Department Spokesman Ned Price advised reporters on Tuesday that the U.S. authorities has pushed Syria to return each American. On Tice’s case particularly, he stated, the Biden administration has “engaged extensively — and that includes directly — with Syrian officials and through third parties.”

“Syria has never acknowledged holding him,” Price stated of Tice, including that “we are not going to be deterred in our efforts. We are going to pursue every avenue for securing Austin’s safe return.”

The Syrian Foreign Ministry denied in its assertion having any secret contacts with U.S. officers on the lacking Americans, including that “any official dialogue with the American government will only be public based on the respect of Syria’s sovereignty.”

In May, high Lebanese safety official Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim met with U.S. officers in Washington as a part of mediation efforts between the U.S. and Syria for Tice’s launch. Ibrahim, the chief of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate, has mediated difficult hostage releases previously.

In May, Mr. Biden met Tice’s dad and mom and reiterated his dedication to working towards “Austin’s long overdue return to his family.”

Debra Tice, Austin’s mom, advised CBS News final week that “there’s no reason not to believe that he’s waiting and hoping and dreaming and planning to walk free.”

“The United States government has worked very hard to convince me that they’re working on it,” she stated. “My response is: Don’t tell me. Show me.” 

In the ultimate months of the Trump administration, two U.S. officers — together with the federal government’s high hostage negotiator, Roger Carstens, a former Army Special Forces officer — made a secret go to to Damascus to hunt data on Tice and different Americans who’ve disappeared in Syria. It was the highest-level talks in years between the U.S. and Assad’s authorities, although Syrian officers supplied no significant data on Tice.

Tice went lacking shortly after his thirty first birthday on Aug. 14, 2012, at a checkpoint in a contested space west of the capital of Damascus. A video launched a month later confirmed him blindfolded and held by armed males, saying, “Oh, Jesus.” He has not been heard from since.

Tice is one among two Americans who went lacking in Syria. The different is Majd Kamalmaz, a psychologist from Virginia, who vanished in Syria in 2017.

Tice is from Houston and his work had been revealed by The Washington Post, McClatchy newspapers and different retailers. He went to Syria to cover the battle that began in 2011. The warfare has left a whole lot of 1000’s useless and displaced almost half of the pre-conflict inhabitants of 23 million. More than 5 million of these are outdoors the nation.

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