‘Iranian pilgrims’ abductors have not made request’

Iran’s deputy foreign minister says abductors of the Iranian pilgrims kidnapped in Syria by the so-called “Free Syrian Army” have not made any formal request to the Islamic Republic’s government.

“We have made every effort to secure their release, and the abductors have not made any request,” Hossein Amir Abdullahian said on Wednesday.

Amir Abdullahian said Iran has sent a strong message to the Free Syrian Army, that has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 48 Iranian pilgrims, that they are accountable for the lives of the country’s denizens.

On August 4, 48 Iranians, who were traveling on a bus from Damascus International Airport to the shrine of Hazrat Zeinab (AS) on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, were abducted by insurgents.

“Similar message has been sent to the countries that support this group,” the Iranian official added.

Referring to cooperation between some of Iran’s neighboring countries and the Free Syrian Army, Amir Abdullahian said Tehran is still deliberating with these states to secure the pilgrims’ release.

Amir Abdullahian added that the Syrian opposition group has bases in one of Iran’s neighboring countries and receives training.

Turkish military has reportedly provided Syrian insurgents with weapons during a brief incursion into the Syrian soil on August 8.

The NBC News also reported on July 31 that nearly two dozen MANPADs (man-portable air-defense systems) have been delivered to the insurgents in Syria by Turkey.

Syria has been the scene of deadly unrest since mid-March, 2011 and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

Damascus blames the chaos on outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists funded and instructed by elements outside the country.