The Iranian Foreign Ministry says it has intelligence indicating that all 48 Iranians recently kidnapped in Syria are in good health, despite recent reports that some of them had been killed.
Mojtaba Ferdowsipour, the head of the Middle East affairs department of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with Al-Alam news channel on Wednesday: “The contacts made to obtain information on the fate of the pilgrims show that they are all in good health, and there is no indication that some of them have been martyred.”
Earlier, the Free Syrian Army, which has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 48 Iranians and their Afghan driver, claimed that government shelling of the building where the captives were being held led to three of them dying. The alleged captors threatened to kill the rest unless the government stopped bombing the opposition.
Iran claims that the kidnapped Iranians were pilgrims on a journey to visit the Shrine of Zeinabiah in suburbs of Damascus, but the captors say that they are militiamen and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Iran has admitted that some retired IRGC members are among the group of Iranians.
Ferdowsipour added that efforts have been underway to secure the release of the Iranian captives ever since their abduction last Saturday. He said the Iranian Foreign Minister has spoken about the issue with his Turkish and Qatari counterparts as well as the UN Secretary General.
Iran has called on the UN to intervene on behalf of the Iranian captives in Syria, and tried to enlist Turkey and Qatar, which are opposition allies.