WASHINGTON, D.C. — After reports that Kash Patel, Special Assistant to U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Syria earlier this year to discuss the potential release of American citizens being held prisoner by the Assad regime, rumors began to fly about a potential policy U.S. policy change in Syria.
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a press conference at the U.S. State Department to quash those rumors.
During the press conference, Pompeo explained the content of the visit and its goal, the release of American journalist Austin Tice and other American citizens. The United States has requested that any information about their whereabouts be disclosed, but the Syrian regime has chosen not to cooperate, according to Pompeo.
He added that the U.S. has no intention of changing its policy toward Syria to secure the release of U.S. citizens in its custody.
Patel’s visit to Daramsuq (Damascus) is the first in nearly a decade for a senior U.S. official.
The U.S. government cut off diplomatic relations with Syria in 2012 in response to the crackdown on demonstrations in the country.