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American journalist held in Syria believed to be in detention center

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The family and employer of James Foley, a U.S. journalist missing in Syria since November, say they now believe he is being held by the Syrian government in a detention center near the capital, Damascus.

That conclusion follows a five-month investigation by Foley's family and his employer, GlobalPost, and was announced on Friday in an article posted on the news organization's website.

"With a very high degree of confidence, we now believe that Jim was most likely abducted by a pro-regime militia group and subsequently turned over to Syrian government forces," GlobalPost CEO and President Philip Balboni said, according to the article.

He went on to say that GlobalPost believes Foley was being held in a prison or detention facility "in the Damascus area."

Foley is believed to have been kidnapped in November of last year in northwest Syria, soon after he crossed the Turkish border by car.

He has worked in the Middle East for the past five years, for GlobalPost and other news organizations, according to a website set up by his family, freejamesfoley.org .

Two years ago, while on assignment for GlobalPost in eastern Libya, Foley was arrested and held for 44 days.

The two-year-old uprising against four decades of Assad family rule has been led by Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, and sectarian clashes and alleged massacres have become increasingly common in a conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people.

(Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)

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