News / Middle East

    Iran: Retired Revolutionary Guards Among Kidnapped in Syria

    This image made from a video released by the Baraa Brigades and accessed Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, purports to show Free Syrian Army soldiers guarding a group of Iranians abducted a day earlier.
    This image made from a video released by the Baraa Brigades and accessed Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, purports to show Free Syrian Army soldiers guarding a group of Iranians abducted a day earlier.
    VOA News
    Iran's Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, says some of the 48 Iranians kidnapped by Syrian rebels are retired members of the Revolutionary Guards and the army and were in Damascus on a religious pilgrimage.

    The rebel Free Syrian Army describes those kidnapped Saturday as Revolutionary Guards on a "reconnaissance mission." But Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Salehi Wednesday, as denying that the Iranians have any current military connection.

    Salehi's comments were published after he visited Turkey Tuesday to ask for help in securing the hostages' release.

    Iranian officials have reached out to both Turkey and Qatar for help in freeing those kidnapped. Both nations support the Syrian opposition, while Iran backs the Syrian government.

    'Worst case scenario'

    Meanwhile, Jordan's King Abdullah says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could try to create a stronghold for his minority Alawite sect if he is unable to keep control of the entire country.

    In an interview with U.S. broadcaster CBS, the king said such an event would create major problems for the nation's neighbors.

    "That would be, I think for us, the worst case scenario because that means then the breakup of greater Syria," said King Abdullah. "And that means that everybody starts land grabbing, which makes no sense to me. If Syria then implodes on itself that would create problems that would take us decades to come back from."

    The 17-month uprising against President Assad's rule is driven primarily by Sunni Muslims who make up the majority of Syria's population. Only about 10 percent of Syrians belong to President Assad's Alawite Islamic sect.

    King Abdullah said he still thinks there is hope for Syria, but expressed concern about the speed of the international response.

    "What I'm worried about, the longer we take to find a political solution, and the more the chaos continues then we may be pushing Syria into the abyss," he said. "My point of view is let’s move as quickly as possible."

    Violence continues

    Aleppo NeighborhoodsAleppo Neighborhoods
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    Aleppo Neighborhoods
    Aleppo Neighborhoods
    The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported more clashes Wednesday in Syria's largest city of Aleppo, as well as government shelling in several neighborhoods. It described the clashes in the Aleppo neighborhood of Salaheddin as "the most violent" the neighborhood has seen since rebels took control.

    Farther north in Aleppo province, in the town of Tal Rifaat, the Observatory says at least three civilians were killed in an assault by Syrian fighter jets.

    Government and opposition claims in Syria are difficult to verify because journalists do not have freedom of movement.

    The latest violence comes after Assad vowed Tuesday to purge Syria of what he called "terrorists" and said he would show no leniency.

    Rights group Amnesty International released satellite images Tuesday of Aleppo and the surrounding region, showing what it says are signs of increased use of heavy weapons, including near residential areas.  The group says the images raise "urgent concerns" about an impending assault on the city.

    It warned both rebels and government forces that attacks against civilians will be monitored.

    "Amnesty International is sending a clear message to both sides in the fighting: Any attacks against civilians will be clearly documented so that those responsible can be held accountable," Christoph Koettl, emergency response manager for Amnesty International USA, said in the statement.

    In all, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 20,000 people have been killed across the country since the uprising began in March of last year.

    Clinton calls for 'Transition Plan'

    US Secretary of State Hillary ClintonUS Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
    x
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it is time for world powers to begin planning for what will happen after  Assad's government falls.  She commented during a Tuesday appearance with South Africa's foreign minister in Pretoria.

    Clinton said she could not predict when the Assad government would fall, but is confident it will.

    "The intensity of the fighting in Aleppo, the defections, really point out how imperative it is that we come together and work toward a good transition plan," she said. "And I would hope that everyone would recognize that the best way to get there quickest is to stop the fighting and begin a political transition to a better future for the Syrian people."

    Clinton says she intends to discuss the issue with Turkish officials during her visit to Istanbul on Saturday.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters

    Photo Gallery: Latest images from Syria

    • A truck catches flames after it was hit by rockets fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter plane during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat, some 37 km (23 miles) north of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
    • A general view shows a street after clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad, in Salah Edinne district, in the center of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an anti-aircraft gun as a Syrian Air Force fighter bomber fires rockets during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat, some 37 km (23 miles) north of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
    • In this photo taken on guided government tour, Syrian army forces are seen at al-Sijen district, in the center of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
    • A Syrian man reacts after the funeral of 29 year-old Free Syrian Army fighter, Husain Al-Ali, who was killed during clashes in Aleppo, in the cemetery in town of Marea on the outskirts of Aleppo city, August 9, 2012.
    • Men search for bodies under rubble of a house destroyed by a Syrian Air force air strike, in Tel Rafat, about 37 kilometers north of Aleppo, Syria, August 8, 2012.
    • In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, Syrians attend the funeral procession of a man killed in Idlib province, August 7, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after a Syrian Army tank shell exploded in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo, August 5, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters fire their rifles during clashes with Syrian Army soldiers in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighter holds a RPG launcher during clashes with Syrian Army in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
    • This image map provides an overview of the activity seen in Aleppo from July 23, 2012 to August 1, 2012 (base image collected on July 29, 2012).
    • More than 600 probable artillery impact craters, represented here with yellow dots, were identified in Anadan, in the vicinity of Aleppo.
    • In this August 5, 2012 photograph, Syrians pass by a destroyed house in town of Atareb outskirts of Aleppo, Syria.
    • Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover during clashes with Syrian Army soldiers in the Salah al- Din neighborhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
    • Syrian women mourn the loss of loved ones in Aleppo fighting, August 5, 2012.


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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Charlie123 from: Canada
    August 09, 2012 9:58 AM
    "retired Republican Guard.." and this to the list of absurd statements made by Iran over many years...right behind "there are no homosexuals in Iran."
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 09, 2012 8:08 PM
    True that.

    by: McAlister from: USA
    August 08, 2012 1:54 PM
    still what remain clear and beyond doubt is that the weakest link in the US security structure is its connection with the UK. Brittan is a sink of iniquity and treachery that undermine the US ever since WWII. America be warned!!!

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 08, 2012 1:17 PM
    Iran says those captured in Syria are retired members of the Revolutionary Guards and the army. Who else but reservist force could have been more suitable to send on such mission? What else would they be doing in Syria at this point in time? Does Iran think it can hoodwink everyone and sell that hocus pocus to the world? Again Assad said he'd purge Syria of 'terrorist', and he's welcoming Iranians into the country. How far does he want to go before he knows who's a terrorist? If Ahmadinejad is not a terrorist, then who is? The language of no leniency sounds like the voice of Russia, but there's little difference between Russia and Iran where human life means very little for the elitists to survive. It is disappointing that the opposition is making too little headway and the international community appears to have words alone and no action. Somebody should do something quickly before Assad in conjunction with Russia and Iran carry out ethnic cleansing of Syria. Speaking strong rejection of actions at the UN and diplomacy is useless at this juncture.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 09, 2012 8:13 PM
    Nobody from Iran goes to Syria to "Pray" at this time of the war. This is pathetic, not only is Assad a bad liar, so is Iran leaders. You can see liar written all over Assads face any day of the week. If it wasn't for Russia, Assad would be already buried right now and the killing spree would all be over. Crazy thing is, in the west if you kill 1,2,3,4 or more people the cops are busting down your door and you are either shot or taken away. In Syria Assad is killing in the thousands and still no law to punish him for murders. He is a cold blooded murderer on the lose and trying to do whatever he can to keep the control, but he can't and in the end there will be lots of bloodshed and likely Assad killed.

    by: Anonymous
    August 08, 2012 11:46 AM
    Civillians aren't wanting to travel to Syria... These Iranians were there for one reason and it isn't religion. The Iranian government wants to help Assad kill any people involved in the uprising. Iranians will soon be the only people Assad can get to kill Syrians. Iranian government should keep their nose out of it, if they know what is good for them. If Iran is sending in troops to Syria, they most certainly are going to get their hand smacked even harder in the near future.

    by: Reality from: America
    August 08, 2012 11:44 AM
    Retired servicemen are considered civilians. The propaganda on here is disgusting. First I read an article that says the Regime is finishing up operations in Damascus. Then I read one stating the rebels are launching a "counter attack" when they are clearly getting their shit pushed in. What if 'civilians' were helping Assad? You are acting as if other countries aren't doing the same for the Rebels. Turkey says it will launch attacks against Kurdish terrorist if felt threatened in Syria. Where of they are actively supporting the rebels. Turkey is a country of backstabbing hypocrites and will get their just deserts.

    by: Carlos.. from: US
    August 08, 2012 11:27 AM
    This is President Obama's fault .. and Hillary's for not resigning .. shameful cowardice for not helping the Syrian people .. the White House abandoned them 427 days ago when the dictator started shooting them ..


    by: ahmad from: nigeria
    August 08, 2012 8:49 AM
    Yea, it is so much like the CIA and Special forces or 'Defense Contractors' approach of the US. Iran must be under studying them. When caught or killed, they are civilians. If they pull something smart, they are special forces. Iran please stop speaking like the US!!!

    by: xortan from: Western Azerbaijan/Iran
    August 08, 2012 8:07 AM
    Really, ?? 1st , they are were civilians, now they mey be retired IRGC, later there may be actualy are at the end of their service and this was their last mission! and later still, they all are members of irgc!!

    by: Exenon from: Australia
    August 08, 2012 5:54 AM
    The words of Iranian politicians are forever tainted with lies. The represent a danger to world peace and stability and apart from isolating the in totality, steps should be taken to show them that their obnoxious blustering rhetoric and virulent anti Semitism will be met with a force that their wildest distorted dream could never foresee. This can be accomplished with the destruction of all their infrastructure without putting troops on the ground.
    In Response

    by: Gimmer from: Canada
    August 10, 2012 9:16 PM
    SusieJoe; A silly comment indeed. A reference to anti-semitism is directly in relation to the hatred of Jews, as I am sure you are aware. A completely different meaning to what you are suggesting.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    August 09, 2012 8:17 PM
    It's not the way of thinking of all Iranian people, trust me it is just the Iranian leader(s)/government that thinks this way. I know many Iranian people and they ask me not to make judgement of them based on their leaders way of thinking. They have all seperately assured me that everyone in Iran hates their own government, what kind of government jeopordizes their own country and people the way these dictators are doing? The Iranian people want whats best for them, not what is best for their leaders. They have no say in Iran, and they have all told me they can not wait until their government is toppled someday.
    In Response

    by: xortan from: western azerbaijan iran
    August 08, 2012 5:13 PM
    what do you think the other goddamn politicians do? or you are so naive?
    In Response

    by: Susiejoe
    August 08, 2012 12:47 PM
    But but but, Exenon, Iranians are semites. How could they also be antisemites?

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