Turkey mediated in release of 11 kidnapped Iranians in Syria

Syria’s Free Syrian Army has said Turkey mediated the release of 11 kidnapped Iranians, expressing gratitude to Turkey for its help and support for the rebel army.

Gunmen kidnapped 11 Iranian pilgrims heading to the Syrian capital from Turkey last Wednesday. The group of 35 pilgrims was traveling on a bus outside the central city of Hama when armed men ambushed the group.

The gunmen took 11 men, leaving behind women, children and elderly men, after taking the group’s money and mobile phones from them. The pilgrims had been on their way to visit Shiite shrines in Syria, he said.

A statement released by the Free Syrian Army said on Monday that the rebel army released the 11 Iranians for humanitarian reasons after Turkey’s mediation. The rebel army alleged that the Iranians were actually sharpshooters firing on protesters and linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

The Syrian Free Army added that they have nothing against the Iranian people, but are against the Iranian regime, which supports the regime in Damascus. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a close ally of Iran, is under mounting international pressure to end a military crackdown on an 11-month-old popular uprising, which has escalated into an armed insurgency in some regions.

Syrians opposed to Assad come mainly from the country’s Sunni Muslim majority, while Assad and his ruling coterie belong to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Iran is the Middle East’s Shiite power.

Five Iranian technicians were also kidnapped in the Syrian city of Homs in December and Tehran has demanded their immediate release. Iran has also condemned what it calls foreign interference in Syrian affairs and has praised reforms Assad pledged to undertake; however, it has tempered its rhetoric on Syria as the uprising drags on and the bloodshed worsens. At first Tehran wholeheartedly supported Assad’s stance in the face of public opposition, but has now begun encouraging reforms on account of popular grievances.

The UN says more than 5,000 people have been killed in Assad’s crackdown on protests. Syria says more than 2,000 security force members have been killed by militants.

The Free Syrian Army also praised Turkey’s position on Syria and thanked Turkey for its support for the rebel army and Syrian people.

Todayszaman

  • Anonymous

    Assad Jr has been in power for 12 years. He was never elected and has been promising reforms for 12 years. at the same time he basically dissolved parliament by not allowing new elections after the term on the old parliament had ended. He has accepted the rank of General Officer and commander of all armed forces even though he never served a single day in the Army. He has promoted only Allawite people to senior positions in the government and military so he can consolidate power. He openly and routinely opposes all Arab nations around him as his father did before him and sides with Iran. He ordered Hamas to attack Fatah in Gaza creating the split with the Palestinians for 6 years now.
    Funds HA, Amal and Palestinian movements in Lebanon that are opposed to Fatah and can be used to clash with government forces like Naher Al Barid or with local parties like Ahbash and HA who clashed a few times and are both pro Syria but Bashar may need leverage over a certain issue so he can pit his own allies against each other. This guy is exactly like his father. The only economic refoarms benefit the few around him and if you dare start a large business in Syria without giving him a share you may see your self in jail. Mercedes had a problem with Bashar basically demanding his cousin become partners with the family that owns the dealership in Syria, Walid Bin Talal Had the same problem and many many more. This guy is a Dictator who loves money and power more than anything in the world.