Lebanon’s intelligence head has said that he will travel to Syria to meet with Syrian authorities concerning the status of a US journalist who went missing in Syria a decade ago.
Major General Abbas Ibrahim stated that US officials want him to begin attempts to return Austin Tice and other Americans who have gone missing in Syria. Tice, a freelance journalist and former marine, went missing in 2012 while reporting.
His agency’s spokesman told General Security magazine in an interview that
According to an official newspaper, Ibrahim stated that in previous conversations with Damascus on Tice, Syria expressed demands linked to the evacuation of US soldiers, the resumption of diplomatic ties, and the easing of some US sanctions.
“We are working to resume the negotiations from where they ended” at the end of former President Donald Trump’s term, he said.
He did not say when he planned to visit Syria.
In May, U.S. President Joe Biden told Tice’s parents that his administration would work “relentlessly” until his return was secured.
“The American officials want me to resume my efforts to resolve this problem. They want their people back. This is what they are aiming for,” Ibrahiam said.
Ibrahim, who said he met with Tice’s mother during a recent trip to the United States, said Syria had not given “clear answers” on Tice’s health or the conditions of his detention.
He said he could not confirm whether Tice was alive in the absence of confirmation from the Syrian government.
The United States suspended its diplomatic presence in Syria 2012 as it descended into a civil war which the United Nations says has killed at least 350,000 people.
Last year, Washington said it would not normalize or upgrade diplomatic relations with Syria, citing what it described as atrocities inflicted on the Syrian people.
Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon could not be reached for comment.