Senior American official visited Damascus secretly

The goal of the visit was to strike a "deal with Assad."

Jerusalem24 – The Wall Street Journal, Sunday evening, that a White House official recently made a secret visit to Damascus, where he held a meeting with the Syrian government.

The newspaper reported that, according to members of the US President Donald Trump’s administration, and other sources familiar with the progress of the talks, that the US Vice President’s Assistant Cash Patel, who is a prominent counterterrorism official at the White House, visited Damascus early this year to hold secret meetings with the government of the Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, to achieve the release of two American citizens who are considered to be held by the country’s authorities.

The sources did not disclose the officials that Patel had met, but they clarified that the talks were held with the aim of reaching a “deal with Assad” that would lead to the release of the independent American journalist, Austin Tice, who had previously served in the Marines and disappeared during his coverage of developments in Syria in 2012. And the Syrian-American doctor, Majid Kamalmaz, who disappeared after being detained at a Syrian government forces checkpoint in 2017.

It is also believed that there are at least 4 other American citizens detained by the Syrian authorities, but there is, according to the newspaper, little information about their cases.

The newspaper indicated in a report that this is the first visit of a high-ranking US official to Syria in about 10 years.

She explained that the last known meetings between White House officials and the Syrian authorities in Damascus were held in 2010, noting that the US government cut diplomatic relations with Syria in 2012 in response to the “suppression of demonstrations” in the country.

Since then, the US authorities, led by former President Barack Obama, and his successor, Trump, have made great efforts to isolate the Syrian government in the international arena and imposed wide sanctions on the authorities in Damascus.

But despite this, Trump repeatedly directed his statements to the Assad government, requesting the release of American detainees.

Last August, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that in March Trump sent a message to Assad about the fate of journalist Austin.

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