Syria has dismissed allegations of holding American nationals, including freelance journalist and veteran US Marine Corps Austin Tice, who disappeared a decade ago while reporting on the foreign-sponsored conflict in the Arab country.
The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement on Wednesday that Damascus “denies that it has kidnapped or is hiding any American citizens who entered its territory or resided in areas under the sovereignty and authority of the Syrian government.”
“The US administration, represented by President [Joe Biden] and Secretary of State [Antony Blinken], issued last week misleading and illogical statements that included baseless accusations against Syria that it had kidnapped or detained American citizens including former US Marine Austin Tice,” it said.
Syria denies US accusations on kidnapping any US citizen who entered its territories, stayed in areas under its authorityhttps://t.co/Fs3rSQpWCM— SANAEnglishOfficial (@SANAEnOfficial) August 17, 2022
“The Syrian Arab Republic categorically denies the accusations of his kidnapping, or holding any American citizen,” the ministry stated, reiterating the Damascus government’s full commitment to the principles of the international law and the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
The Syrian foreign ministry also denied any secret contacts with US officials on missing Americans, emphasizing that “any official dialogue with the American government will only be public based on the respect of Syria's sovereignty.”
“The US must immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces that are unlawfully present on the Syrian soil, stop plundering and smuggling Syrian crude oil and wheat crops, end support for separatist groups and terrorist outfits stationed at the illegal US-run military base in al-Tanf region, and remove sanctions imposed by successive US administrations against the Syrian nation,” the ministry statement added.
Biden last week claimed that his administration knew with “certainty” that Tice, who was abducted in the Syrian capital Damascus in August 2012, was being held by Syria’s government.
“On the tenth anniversary of his abduction, I am calling on Syria to end this and help us bring him home,” the US president said in a statement.
The Syrian government has denied on multiple occasions that it is holding Tice, who reported for The Washington Post and McClatchy newspapers, among other news outlets.
Tice's family said Austin was traveling in the Damascus suburb of Darayya to work on one of his final pieces for the summer on August 13, 2012, when he was abducted. He was supposed to leave for Lebanon the following day.
Since then, the only information Tice's family has received from his captors was a 43-second video that surfaced five weeks after his disappearance.
It was titled “Austin Tice is Alive” and showed Tice and a group of militants, but contained no other information.
Tice is one of two Americans who went missing in Syria. The other is Majd Kamalmaz, a psychologist from Virginia, who vanished in Syria in 2017.