World Bulletin/News Desk
Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi visited Qatar in the past week to discuss the fate of 48 Iranians kidnapped by rebels in Syria, a deputy foreign minister said on Saturday, according to Iran's Fars news agency.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian did not say who Salehi met while in Qatar, whose government is a major supporter of rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Iran's closest ally in the region.
Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow Assad seized the group of 48 Iranians in August, accusing them of being members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards sent to help Syrian government forces crush the uprising which began in March last year.
Iran says the group was on a religious pilgrimage and has called for their immediate release.
"During this trip in addition to the developments in Syria, specifically the 48 kidnapped Iranian pilgrims in Syria were discussed," Amir-Abdollahian said, according to Fars.
Iran has called on Turkey and Qatar to use their links with rebel groups to help secure their freedom.
The al-Baraa brigade, part of the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, said last week it would start killing the Iranians within 48 hours unless Assad freed Syrian opposition detainees and stopped shelling civilian areas.
But Qatar, following a request from Iran, urged the rebels not to carry out the threat. Amir-Abdollahian said on Saturday the kidnapped Iranians were in good health.
Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, also visited Qatar this week, Qatari news agencies reported. Saudi Arabia is also supporting the Syrian rebels.
There was no indication of any link between the two visits.
The planned cable car will make a stop in East Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood
EU affairs minister says capture of Jarabulus from ISIL preserves global security
Kerry arrived in Saudi Arabia Wednesday for talks on the Yemeni conflict
Syria's Foreign Ministry has said the Turkish tanks crossed the border is a "violation of our sovereignty"
Binali Yildirim says Syrian opposition forces are now in Jarabulus and taking control of villages around town
Turkish tanks surge ahead in Operation Euphrates Shield
In echoes of the Vietnam war a joint UN, OPCW report determines use of mustard gas, chlorine in Syria
The information-loaded bracelets will help authorities keep track of pilgrims' movements.
Turkish president says operation around Jarabulus triggered by terror threat to southern Turkey
Kayed has entered his 70th day on hunger strike to protest his ongoing placement in "administrative detention" in Israel
Turkish Air Forces hit 11 of 12 targets with precise accuracy as part of anti-ISIL operations in Syria
Operation aimed at clearing Turkish borders of terror groups, supporting territorial integrity of Syria with residents in nearby Karakamis evacuated on Tuesday