2134 GMT: Syria. US journalist Austin Tice is still missing in Syria, and his news agency, McClatchy, has released a statement that it is now believed that Tice is in the custody of the Assad regime:
Statements in recent days by Czech diplomats, information from Syrian rebel supporters and reports from people inside Syria indicate that the 31-year-old Houston native, who contributed to McClatchy Newspapers, The Washington Post and CBS News, was detained by Syrian government forces near the Damascus suburb of Daraya, his last known location.
The U.S. State Department says the Syrian government has not responded to inquiries about Tice that were made through official channels and that U.S. diplomats were “working through our Czech protecting power in Syria to get more information on his welfare and whereabouts.” A Syrian official in the United States declined to comment Thursday...
On Monday, the Czech ambassador to Syria, Eva Filipi, told a Czech television interviewer in Prague that “sources” had informed her mission that Tice was in detention, though further information had been hard to come by because of an Islamic holiday at the time. The Czechs, who oversee U.S. interests in Damascus because the U.S. closed its embassy there in February, sent a formal diplomatic note about Tice to Syrian counterparts, she said.
“Our sources report that he is alive and that he was detained by government forces on the outskirts of Damascus, where the rebels were fighting government troops,” Filipi said in response to a question about Tice. “Our additional steps were halted by the fact that the report came at the beginning of the final holidays of Ramadan and therefore we had a week off in Syria and some our contacts were not in Damascus.”