Iran seeks Turkish mediation for release of hostages in Syria
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi (L) attend a news conference in Ankara on Oct. 21, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has once again called for Turkey's assistance to secure the release of 48 Iranian hostages being held by the Syrian opposition forces, according to an Iranian news agency.
Iran's official IRNA news agency reported that Salehi held two separate talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, requesting their prompt intervention to secure the release of 48 Iranian hostages.
Both ministers agreed to exert necessary efforts to ensure the release of the hostages, IRNA said.
Salehi's move comes a day after a branch of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which has been battling Bashar al-Assad's regime for over a year, announced in a video that it will begin to execute Iranian hostages they accused of assisting Syrian troops within the next 48 hours if Damascus does not release opposition detainees and stop the shelling of civilian areas.
On Friday the Saudi-funded, Dubai-based Al Arabiya TV channel aired a video showing members of the FSA's Bar'a brigade in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus saying, “If the Syrian regime, backed by the Iranian regime, does not release detainees and stop the shelling on unarmed civilians and indiscriminate killing of innocent people within 48 hours of the release of this statement, an Iranian prisoner will be killed for each martyr who is killed.” The same brigade kidnapped 48 Iranians, who are believed to be members of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, in August in the Syrian capital.
The Iranian media had also reported in August that Salehi had contacted Davutoğlu soon after the kidnapping of the Iranians.