US responsible for 48 Syria hostages: Iran

MENA, Tuesday 7 Aug 2012

FSA and America accountable for lives of 48 Iranian 'pilgrims' kidnapped in Syria Saturday, says Iran; Syrian opposition forces claim three hostages killed in shelling

Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi (Photo: Reuters)

Iran says it holds Syria's oppositional forces the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the US responsible for the safety of 48 of its citizens and an Afghani interpreter, allegedly kidnapped by rebel groups, Saturday, whilst on a pilgrimage to the war-torn country.

During a press conference held on Monday, the Islamic state maintained that the US are culpable should anything happen to the Iranian pilgrims, given the American support of Syrian armed insurgents.

Meanwhile, Iran's Fars news agency published a statement from the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday asserting that an official memo regarding the situation has been sent from Tehran to America via the Swiss embassy, which represents US interests in Iran.

The statement also called on Turkey and Qatar to secure the release of the hostages and to ensure their safe passage out of the country.

The Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly denied earlier reports by Arabic news agencies that the kidnapped visitors were military personnel from the elite Revolutionary Guard,  stating that the 48 were bound for Sayyida Zeinab shrine, a Shiite pilgrimage site in the southeastern suburbs of Damascus.

Iran has yet to release an official response to FSA reports that three of the hostages died during a Monday bomb attack by President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces in the suburbs of the Syrian capital.

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