U.S. President Joe Biden has renewed calls for the safe return of American Journalist Austin Tice who went missing in Syria over a decade ago.
On Wednesday Biden urged leaders in Damascus to help secure the repatriation of Tice as pressure continues to increase on the White House by families of hostages and detainees, Reuters reported.
Biden said that the U.S. government knows now "with certainty" that the U.S. journalist has been held by the Syrian government and called on the Syrian government to release him after 10 years in captivity, CNN reported.
Biden said, "We know with certainty that he has been held by the Syrian regime." The president said, "We have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home."
Biden urged movement on the case for Tice's family, saying, "On the tenth anniversary of his abduction, I am calling on Syria to end this and help us bring him home." He said, "Tice family deserves answers, and more importantly, they deserve to be swiftly reunited with Austin."
According to CNN, the Syrian government and leader Bashar al-Assad, have not publicly acknowledged that Tice is being detained there.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday, "Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens will continue to engage with the Syrian government in close coordination with the White House, Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell, and our team here at the State Department."
Carstens secretly traveled to Damascus to meet with government officials there in 2020 while under then president Donald Trump. Then in May, he met with a top Lebanese security official in Washington to "discuss US citizens who are missing or detained in Syria."
A top priority for the Tice family and U.S. officials is to continue to engage with the Syrian government and keep that engagement sustained.