9 Aug 2012

UN asked for help with hostages by Iran

4:45 am on 9 August 2012

Iran has asked the United Nations to help obtain the release of 48 Iranian hostages, seized by rebel forces in Syria.

The Iranians were travelling on a bus on Saturday, when they were captured by the rebels, who accused them of carrying out reconnaissance.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made the request in a letter to the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

He said some of the captives were retired soldiers or Revolutionary Guards who were on pilgrimage to a Shi'ite shrine in Damascus, but denied any of them were on active service.

A rebel spokesman said on Monday that three of the kidnapped Iranians had been killed in a government air strike and the rest would be executed if the attacks did not stop.