According to a senior US diplomat, security officials from the United States and Syria, along with representatives from foreign ministries, are currently engaged in secret talks in Muscat, the capital of Oman.
A senior diplomatic official in the Arab League has revealed exclusively to The Cradle that secret, direct negotiations are currently taking place between the US and Syrian governments.
The diplomat, who revealed the information under the condition of anonymity, said that “the talks took place in the Omani capital Muscat, ‘the city of secret negotiations’ between Washington and several nations in West Asia.” He also pointed out that the “meetings included security figures from both countries and representatives of foreign Ministries.”
During the talks, Syrian officials mainly pressed for the complete withdrawal of US occupation troops from the country. According to field sources that spoke with The Cradle, around 2,000 American military personnel are present at any given time in Syrian territory across 22 US bases – a figure higher than the Pentagon’s official count of 900 troops.
During the Muscat talks, the source stressed that “the American envoy repeatedly confirmed that he has information that Austin Tice is alive and in a Syrian army detention center. However, the Syrian delegation insisted that it had no information about Tice, with Damascus expressing its readiness to make all possible efforts to reveal his fate.”
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The freelance journalist and former US Marine Corps officer was kidnapped in 2012 by armed groups in a suburb of Damascus.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that Washington has been “engaged with Syria, engaged with third countries” to find Tice.
According to The Cradle’s sources, the White House is convinced that Damascus knows of Tice’s whereabouts. However, the Syrian delegation in Muscat did not confirm any information on this matter.
According to sources, Washington and Damascus began secret communications during the administration of former US president Donald Trump. However, these fell by the wayside once Trump stated his intention to “kill” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September 2020.
The diplomat added that “secret talks took place in previous years between Damascus and Washington, but most of them were through mediators, such as the former director general of the Lebanese General Security, Abbas Ibrahim. Direct meetings also took place between the two countries, one of which was in the Syrian capital, Damascus.” However, the number of direct meetings remained limited.
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