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Parents of missing U.S. journalist missing headed to Beirut

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From Nick Valencia, CNN

(CNN) — The parents of a U.S. journalist missing in Syria are on their way to Beirut, Lebanon, where they hope to “seek out people who can help facilitate his release,” the family said Sunday.

Austin Tice, who was working as a freelancer for McClatchy and other news outlets, last contacted his family on August 13 while in Syria reporting on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

He was preparing to leave Syria for neighboring Lebanon when he went missing, according to his family.

“It’s more to seek out people who can help facilitate his release,” a family spokesperson told CNN. “(His parents) will be giving a few interviews, but the focus is on making themselves available to those who can help. ‘Help’ in the sense of intervening directly with his captors.”

The U.S. State Department has said it believes Tice was detained by Syrian officials in August as he was preparing to leave the country. He had smuggled himself into the country to report on the uprising.

In November, Marc Tice, Austin Tice’s father, told reporters that the Syrian government had told his family that it doesn’t know where their son is.

In October, a shaky video surfaced on YouTube showing a man believed to be Tice surrounded by armed men walking him up a hill.

State Department officials have questioned the veracity of the video, which purports to show Tice in the custody of rebels fighting the Syrian government.

Tice’s parents told CNN last year they do not want to speculate about who is holding him; they just want their son back home.

Austin is the oldest of the couple’s seven children.

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