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Iran’s foreign ministry says 11 Iranian pilgrims have been kidnapped by an unknown group in Syria, which has been swept by civil unrest.

Tehran is calling on the Syrian government to “use all means” to help secure their release.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on January 26 that the 11 Iranian citizens were traveling by road to Damascus when they were abducted.

In a similar incident in late December, seven Iranian engineers were kidnapped in the Homs region of central Syria — a hub of unrest and government crackdowns that have beset the Arab state since March.

Syria is Iran’s main ally in the Arab world.

Anti-regime circles have accused Tehran of aiding the regime’s crackdown on dissent.

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