There have been a number of direct interactions — none of which took place in Damascus — but they have thus far yielded no progress, the source familiar said.
This week marks the tenth anniversary of Tice being taken hostage in Syria. President Joe Biden on Wednesday declared that the US government knows “with certainty that he has been held by the Syrian regime.”
Although the US has offered to hold senior-level meetings with the regime of Bashar al-Assad to discuss Tice’s case, Syrian officials have flatly refused, both in direct and indirect conversations, the source familiar told CNN. The Syrian officials have not offered any explanation for their refusals or any demands or preconditions for such discussions to take place, they added.
“The United States has engaged extensively to try to get Austin home, including directly with Syrian officials and through third parties,” the senior administration official said. “Unlike in other situations where Americans are detained abroad, for many months, the Syrian government has not agreed to senior-level meetings to discuss Austin’s case, nor has it ever acknowledged holding him.”
“We will continue to pursue every avenue for securing Austin’s release,” the official said.
A State Department official added that the “US government is extensively…