Parents of Austin Tice, journalist kidnapped in Syria, say new info suggests son still alive

The parents of kidnapped American journalist Austin Tice said Tuesday undisclosed new information leads them to believe their son is still alive six years after he was last seen in Syria, and the pair said they're hopeful the Trump administration will get Tice freed. Marc and Debra Tice told reporters in Beirut they've met with … Continue reading “Parents of Austin Tice, journalist kidnapped in Syria, say new info suggests son still alive”

The parents of kidnapped American journalist Austin Tice said Tuesday undisclosed new information leads them to believe their son is still alive six years after he was last seen in Syria, and the pair said they're hopeful the Trump administration will get Tice freed.

Marc and Debra Tice told reporters in Beirut they've met with U.S. officials — including President Trump — and “they have each made a commitment to us that they’re determined to bring Austin home safely.”

Austin Tice, who would now be 37 years old, disappeared Aug. 14, 2012, after stopping at a checkpoint in Syria while en route to Lebanon. Five weeks after his disappearance, a video surfaced showing a blindfolded Tice being detained by armed men. He reportedly hasn't been seen since. At the time of his disappearance, Tice was working as a freelance journalist outside Damascus, the Syrian capital.

PARENTS OF MISSING JOURNALIST AUSTIN TICE TELL FOX NEWS THEY'RE 'CONFIDENT' HE'S STILL ALIVE

His parents said they recently applied for visas to go to Damascus, to appeal for Tice's release in person, but the visas have yet to be granted.

"We're incredibly encouraged, and we've spent many hours, many days meeting all the senior officials in the United States government, from the president down, over the course of a number of months," Marc Tice said.

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The Tices said they're hopeful they'll get their son back due to Trump's personal interest in the case and his administration's success in freeing hostages around the globe.

The parents told Fox News in August they have “confidence” their son is alive. In April, the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information leading to Tice, a former Marine who served in Iraq and has reported for the Washington Post, CBS and other outlets. Debra Tice said the couple has been contacted by a number of credible individuals “who have shared information about Austin,” though she declined to elaborate on specifics.

US JOURNALIST AUSTIN TICE REMEMBERED AT NEWSEUM 4 YEARS AFTER KIDNAPPING IN SYRIA

“It’s not just the feeling in our hearts that Austin is alive. It’s the consensus of all those working on his case,” Mark Tice said.

It’s not clear what entity — terror group, criminal gang, government faction — is holding Tice, and no ransom demand has ever been made. An FBI poster released this year urges people to report any information that could lead authorities to Tice's location or could aid officials in his recovery. Debra Tice said she often dreams about the day her son returns home.

“I plan to make it very difficult for him to breathe because I’ll be hugging him so tight,” she said.

Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter.

Senior ISIS leader involved in killing of former US Army Ranger killed in drone strike, coalition says

Abu al Umarayn, a senior ISIS leader who was involved in the brutal murder of former U.S. Army Ranger Peter Kassig, was killed in a drone strike in Syria on Sunday, the U.S.-led coalition said.

The leader, along with "several other ISIS members," was killed in precision drone strikes in Syria's Badiyah Desert, coalition spokesperson Col. Sean Ryan said in a statement.

"Al Umarayn had given indications of posing an imminent threat to Coalition Forces and he was involved in the killing of American Citizen and former U.S. Army Ranger, Peter Kassig," officials said. "He has been linked to and directly involved with executing several other prisoners as a senior ISIS member."

FLASHBACK: PETER KASSIG, FORMER ARMY RANGER HELD BY ISIS, WENT TO LEBANON TO HELP SYRIAN REFUGEES

The statement continued, "Coalition airstrikes continue to disrupt ISIS command and control on the battlefield as we remove key figures from their ranks.”

Kassig, a 26-year-old aid worker and U.S. citizen, was captured in Syria in October 2013 as he was providing aid to Syrians who were fleeing the country's civil war. His friends say he converted to Islam in captivity and took the first name Abdul-Rahman. ISIS released graphic video in 2014 showing he was beheaded, and U.S. officials confirmed the footage was authentic.

He enlisted in the Army more than a decade ago, and became a Ranger, ultimately serving in the 75th Ranger Regiment, an Army special operations unit, according to his military record. Kassig trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 2006, and deployed to Iraq from April to July 2007. He was medically discharged at the rank of private first class in September 2007.

2014 GRAPHIC ISLAMIC STATE GROUP VIDEO CLAIMS US AID WORKER PETER KASSIG BEHEADED

In a January 2013 interview with Time, Kassig said he traveled heavily throughout Lebanon to assess the needs of people there.

Kassig formed the aid organization Special Emergency Response and Assistance, or SERA, in Turkey to provide aid and assistance to Syrian refugees. He began delivering food and medical supplies to Syrian refugee camps in 2012 and is also a trained medical assistant who provided trauma care to injured Syrian civilians and helped train 150 civilians in providing medical aid.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com. Follow her on Twitter @nicoledarrah.

Pope lights candle to promote peace in Syria

The pope has lit a candle decorated with the faces of Syrian children suffering from war as part of a global campaign calling for peace in the Middle Eastern country.

The pope told believers gathered in St. Peter's Square on the first Sunday of the Advent season leading up to Christmas that the season "is a time of hope." The pontiff called for a halt to the civil war in Syria, which has been underway for nearly eight years.

Lifting the candle to the window, the pope urged that "these flames of hope disperse the darkness of war."

The lighting launched a global campaign for Syria, which the organization Aid to the Church in Need said involved over 50,000 children from war-torn Syrian cities.