US Restores Backchannels With Syria Over Missing American Journalist

The Syrian government denies that it detained Austin Tice, who has been missing for 10 years after being kidnapped in Syria

The Biden administration has restored backchannel communication with the Syrian government as part of an effort to discover the fate of Austin Tice, an American who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 while working in the country as a freelance journalist.

According to a report from McClatchyDC, President Biden hosted Tice’s parents at the White House on May 2 and told them that he directed his team to secure a meeting with top Syrian officials. Tice’s parents have been calling for the US to directly engage with the Syrian government.

Biden said last week that he knows “with certainty” that Tice is being held by the Syrian government. But Syrian officials have denied this, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has never said that his government had detained Tice.

Since hosting Tice’s parents, the Biden administration has made no apparent progress on securing meetings over the missing American. During previous negotiations in 2020 between Syria and the Trump administration, Damascus demanded that the US withdraw all of its troops from Syria, lift sanctions on the country, and normalize relations to start a discussion on US interests.

The US keeps a small occupation force in eastern Syria of about 1,000 troops and backs the Kurdish-led SDF in the region. The area that the US occupies is where most of Syria’s oil fields and wheat fields are located, keeping the vital resources out of the hands of Damascus.

The US also maintains crippling economic sanctions on Syria that are meant to prevent the country’s reconstruction. The official US policy toward Assad’s government is that the sanctions will remain in place, and Washington won’t normalize with Damascus until there is regime change, what the Biden administration calls a “political settlement.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.