- On Wed., the Syrian government denied holding American journalist and former Marine Austin Tice, days after Biden accused Damascus of detaining him.
- The Syrian Foreign Ministry said that the accusation is "baseless" and that Damascus "denies it had kidnapped or is holding any American citizen on its territories."
- Biden said last week that the US knew "with certainty" that Tice is being held in a Syrian prison, saying "we have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home."
- A top Lebanese security official, Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, met with US officials in May in Washington reportedly as part of mediation efforts between the US and Syria for Tice's release. However, the Syrian government has never admitted to holding him.
- Tice went missing in 2012 while covering the early phases of the Syrian civil war. A month later, a video of him blindfolded and in custody of unidentified men emerged. He hasn't been seen since.
- Tice is one of two Americans who went missing in government-held regions of Syria, with the other being Majd Kamalmaz, a psychologist from Virginia, who vanished in 2017.
- Narrative A, as provided by New York Times. Though the US claims to have worked hard to secure Austin Tice's release, little progress has been made. Due to a lack of diplomatic ties with Syria, the US has had to rely on back channels and intermediaries, and Tice and his family are paying the price. Biden's words have yet to translate into action; more must be done to free him.
- Narrative B, as provided by CNN. In addition to using back channels and intermediaries, the US has engaged directly with Syria in an effort to bring Tice home. Unfortunately, the US is dealing with a unique situation as Damascus has yet to even admit to holding Tice.
- Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Syrian Arab News Agency. The Syrian government simply isn't holding Austin Tice, and even if it were, it would have every right to do so, as he entered the country illegally, at the encouragement of the US. If Washington really wants to seek dialogue or official communication with Syria, it should start by respecting Syria's sovereignty and withdrawing its forces from the country.
- Cynical narrative, as provided by The Washington Post. Hostage taking is becoming a grim commonality among hostile foreign governments. More Americans are being held by national governments than by militant groups, and if the US doesn't act accordingly, this problem will only get worse.