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Their Son, A Marine Vet, Vanished In Syria 5 Years Ago; Can Trump Help Bring Him Home?
Nearly every morning, Marc and Debra Tice check the news and discuss any overnight events that might help them locate their son, Austin.
It’s been like this for five years — two parents engaged in constant research, networking, traveling, looking for doors to open that could lead to their son. “Every development could create some new opportunity,” said Marc Tice.
A freelance journalist and Marine veteran, Austin Tice disappeared in Syria on Aug. 14, 2012, just three days after turning 31. On Friday, his parents will throw a party at their home in Houston to celebrate his 36th birthday.
Austin Tice#FREEAUSTINTICE Campaign photo
“We are keeping the candles lit until he comes home,” said Debra Tice, whose family has created a support website for Austin where supporters can post birthday greetings.
Austin Tice was covering the Syrian civil war for McClatchy, The Washington Post and other news organizations when he vanished en route to Lebanon. He was last sighted six weeks after his disappearance, when a video was posted that showed him being guided up a hill by a group of armed men.
While there’s been no other public sighting since 2012, his parents remain confident he is alive and that his freedom can be secured.
“We have new information that we cannot share,” Debra Tice said during a recent telephone interview. Doing so, she said, would potentially undermine their relationship with a valuable source.
Tice “is not being held by any part of the Syrian opposition,” his mother said — including Islamic States, which has executed several Americans. Reporters Without Borders has also stated that Tice is alive and not held by ISIS.
That’s led to speculation the Syrian government is holding Tice or knows where he is confined — a claim Syrian officials have repeatedly denied.
Julia Nesheiwat, acting special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, said her office is deeply concerned about Austin Tice’s well-being.
“His case has the attention of the highest levels in our U.S. government and the administration,” Nesheiwat said in a statement to McClatchy. “We are actively working to secure Austin’s release.”
She added that U.S. officials will continue to work through the Czech Republic — a go-between to Syrian officials known as a “protecting power” — to obtain information about Tice’s welfare and whereabouts.
The Tices have traveled several times to Washington this year to meet with U.S. officials. Last month, they held a media conference in Beirut, their third in that city, in the hope that local media coverage could generate new leads or sources.
“We have every reason to believe that Austin is alive and being held captive in Syria,” Marc Tice said during that Beirut appearance. “We are willing to engage with any government, any group or any person who can help us in our effort to secure his safe release.”
Tice is one of several Americans missing, detained or abducted overseas, in regions ranging from North Korea to the Middle East. Partly because of pressure from family members, President Barack Obama in 2015 issued Presidential Policy Directive 30, which established new policies for “hostage recovery activities.” It also created the job currently held by Nesheiwat on an acting basis.
In June, The New York Times reported that CIA Director Mike Pompeo had reached out to a Syrian government official with a goal of securing Tice’s release. That back channel dried up, the Times reported, after Syria launched a nerve gas attack on rebel-held territory in northern Syria and the Trump administration responded with a missile strike.
White House officials declined to comment, and Tice’s parents say they have no information to verify that report. But they say the new administration is “absolutely” engaged in seeking the return of their son and other Americans abducted or missing.
“We’ve been surprised, pleased and gratified at the speed and depth of engagement of the new administration,” said Marc Tice, with his wife calling it “a smooth transition.”
Austin Tice has six brothers and sisters, and every year, some or all of them join their parents in celebrating his birthday. It is a folksy affair, sometimes with Austin’s favorite summer food — pasta salad — along with cake and ice cream, songs and games. “It will be as absolutely corny as we can possibly make it,” said Debra Tice.
©2017 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan forces and Taliban fighters clashed in a central region where a U.S. military aircraft crashed, officials said on Tuesday, as the government tried to reach the wreckage site in a Taliban stronghold.
On Monday, the U.S. military said an E-11A aircraft crashed in the province of Ghazni, but disputed Taliban claims to have brought it down, without saying how many were aboard or if any had been killed.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that U.S. strategic goals could include drawing down troops in Africa despite French pleas that American support is "critical" to countering the growing strength of terror groups in the region with links to the Islamic State and al Qaeda.
"My aim is to adjust our footprint in many places," including Africa, to free up forces for a "great power competition" against China and Russia, he said at a joint Pentagon news conference with French Defense Minister Florence Parly.
The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.
The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.
Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.
Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.
The US government is letting Marine veteran Austin Tice languish in a Syrian prison, according to his mother
The mother of Marine veteran Austin Tice told reporters on Monday that a top U.S. official is refusing to give permission for a meeting with the Syrian government to negotiate the release of her son, who went missing near Damascus in 2012.
"Apparently, somewhere in the chain, there is a senior U.S. government official who is hesitating or stalling," Debra Tice reportedly said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Debra Tice said she is not certain who this senior official is. She also praised those in government who are working to get her son back.