The General Directorate of Public Security announced in a statement, that the Director General of Public Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, conducted a COVID 19 test before leaving the American capital, and the result was positive. He will have to delay his return to Beirut, and cancel his meetings that were scheduled in the French capital.
He has reportedly been contacted and is in good health.
Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim has been in Washington since last Wednesday .
The purpose of his visit was to discuss US hostages in Damascus.
Ibrahim was expected to meet with a number of US officials, including Robert O’Brien, the National Security Adviser, who personally handles the cases of hostages.
Maj. Gen. Ibrahim has negotiated the release of a U.S. citizen from Syria and a Lebanese who is also a permanent U.S. resident from Iran.
AP reported today that a top U.S. official recently visited Syria for rare, secret high-level talks on securing the return of two Americans missing in the war-torn country for years, the daughter of one of them said Monday.
The visit of Kash Patel, deputy assistant to President Donald Trump and the top White House counterterrorism official, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
There was no immediate U.S. comment on the reports.
There has not been a confirmed visit by a high-level American official to Damascus since the U.S. shuttered its embassy in the capital and withdrew its ambassador in 2012 as the country’s civil war worsened.
However, numerous U.S. officials, both military and civilian, have traveled to rebel-held parts of the country in the years since.
Majd Kamalmaz, a 62-year-old clinical psychologist from Virginia, disappeared in 2017 and is believed to be held in a Syrian government prison.
Freelance journalist Austin Tice, 39, has been missing for much longer. Tice, a native of Houston, Texas, vanished Aug. 14, 2012 after he got into a car in the Damascus suburb of Daraya to make a trip to Lebanon and was detained at a checkpoint.
Kamalmaz’s daughter, Maryam, said the family learned of Patel’s visit last week. “Praying for the best from it,” she said, speaking to The Associated Press in a series of messages. She said they believe the trip was within the past two weeks but she had no further details.
A pro-Syrian government newspaper Al-Watan confirmed Monday the Journal’s report, adding that Patel and Roger Carstens, special presidential envoy for hostages affairs, were in Damascus in August, where they met with the Syrian intelligence chief to discuss the Americans.
The paper, which usually conveys government positions, said Syrian officials have demanded a U.S. troop withdrawal from eastern Syria, where they have been deployed alongside Kurdish fighters. Damascus considers the U.S. troop presence there illegal and is at odds with the Kurdish group seeking autonomy. The paper also said it was the third such secret visit by senior U.S. officials in past years.
Trump has made negotiating the release of U.S. citizens held hostage or imprisoned in foreign countries a priority.
Former national security adviser John Bolton wrote in his recent book that negotiations on the U.S. role in Syria were “complicated by Trump’s constant desire to call Assad on U.S. hostages.” He said he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thought it was “undesirable.”
“Fortunately, Syria saved Trump from himself, refusing even to talk to Pompeo about them,” Bolton wrote.
Kamalmaz’s daughter, Maryam, said the family still has no news about her father’s health or whereabouts. “We are hoping this meeting will bring some updates and news about him.”
Tens of thousands of people are believed held in Syrian prisons since the country’s civil war broke out in 2011. Many are held incognito for years in lock-ups rife with torture and disease. In the country’s war, militant groups have also resorted to kidnapping foreigners for ransom or rivals to settle scores.
Several U.S. officials, including a senior figure at the State Department, are now self-isolating after meeting with a Lebanese spymaster Major General Abbas Ibrahim who has tested positive for the coronavirus.
David Hale, the undersecretary of State for political affairs; CIA Director Gina Haspel; and national security adviser Robert O’Brien were among the Americans who met with Ibrahim during his recent visit to Washington, people familiar with the situation told POLITICO.
Ibrahim met with O’Brien for some four hours in a discussion that outlined Syrian demands as part of a negotiation to end the uncertainty about the two apparently captive men’s whereabouts,.
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