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Iran: US responsible for 48 Iranians captured in Syria

"Because of the US manifest support of terrorist groups and the dispatch of weapons to Syria, the US is responsible for the lives of the 48 Iranian pilgrims," Iran said.

Clone of Saeed JaliliEnlarge
Saeed Jalili, head of Iran's supreme national defence council, holds a joint press conference with Iranian ambassador to Syria Mohammad Reza Sheibani (R) at the Iranian embassy in the Syrian capital Damascus on August 7, 2012. Tehran will continue to back Syria under President Bashar al-Assad, which acts as a pillar of an Iranian-led regional alliance, Jalili told Assad in Damascus. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran on Tuesday publicly supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, accused the US of "warmongering," and said Washington should use its influence to secure the release of 48 Iranian nationals captured by Syrian rebels, according to Reuters and the Associated Press.

Iran's foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, flew to Turkey today in an attempt to secure the country's help in a recovery effort, Reuters reported

"Turkey has its links with the opposition in Syria. So we think Turkey can play a major role in freeing our pilgrims," Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters.

Iran claims its citizens are religious pilgrims and denies allegations by rebels in Syria that it sent Iranian Revolutionary Guards to assist the Assad regime, according to the Guardian.   

Iran sent a message to the US via Switzerland — which represents US interests in Iran — that said, "Because of the US manifest support of terrorist groups and the dispatch of weapons to Syria, the US is responsible for the lives of the 48 Iranian pilgrims abducted in Damascus," according to the Guardian.  

Iran's national security adviser, Saeed Jalili, met with Assad in Damascus on Tuesday, where Assad told Jalili of "the determination of the people and government of Syria to cleanse the country of terrorists," the Guardian reported

On Iranian television, Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani said: "In the name of Islam, some of these governments have launched killings and even treat Iranian pilgrims in Syria with violence," according to Reuters.

"These crimes are not something the Iranian nation will disregard. The American regime and some countries in the region are responsible for these crimes. And they will receive their response in turn," he added, according to the report.

He also criticized US "warmongering" and warned that its "malevolence in Syria will consume Israel." 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iran/120807/iran-us-responsible-48-its-citizens-held-hostage-syria