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SYRIA

Video shows American journalist being held

BEIRUT — An American freelance journalist who has been missing in Syria since mid-August has been shown in a video clip posted online, blindfolded and saying “Oh, Jesus” in a frightened voice in the custody of armed men.

The video, which came to light Monday, was the first sign of Austin Tice’s condition since he disappeared more than seven weeks ago.

Mr. Tice, a 31-year-old former Marine, had been reporting on Syria’s civil war for The Washington Post, McClatchy Newspapers and others.

The Tice family confirmed to several media outlets that their son appears in the video.

In the video, Mr. Tice tries to recite the Muslim declaration of faith, or shahada, but then switches to English and says, “Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus,” and rests his head on a captor’s arm.

The Associated Press could not independently confirm the origin or the content of the video clip. Although the footage shows a group of captors dressed like Islamic extremists and shouting “God is Great,” the clip lacks the customary appearance of jihadist videos.

IRAQ

$14M deal signed for U.S. upgrades to key Gulf port

BAGHDAD — Iraq on Tuesday signed a $14 million deal with a U.S. consortium to modernize a major port in the country’s southern province of Basra in a move aimed at developing key infrastructure neglected during years of war and sanctions.

Under the 10-year agreement with a consortium led by North America Western Asia Holdings, the companies will invest in a heavy-lift crane and container-handling capabilities, and build a modern container yard in one of the 14 berths in the Maqal Port on Shatt al-Arab waterway, the company said in a statement.

The consortium also will dredge Shatt al-Arab, which is unable to welcome deep-water vessels because of years of neglect, to 9 yards to make it a “deep water” port, the statement added.

The 93-year-old port is one of four in Basra on the Persian Gulf for commercial goods.

From wire dispatches and staff reports