Iran: Retired Revolutionary Guards Among Those Kidnapped in Syria

Posted August 8th, 2012 at 4:45 am (UTC-5)
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Iran's foreign minister 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.

Wednesday, Iran's ISNA news agency quoted Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi denying that the Iranians have any current military connection.

The rebel Free Syrian Army describes those kidnapped Saturday as Revolutionary Guards on a “reconnaissance mission.”

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

In an interview with U.S. broadcaster CBS, the king said that such an event would be a “worst case scenario” that creates decades of problems.

On Tuesday, Mr. Assad vowed to purge Syria of what he called “terrorists” and said he would show no leniency.

Also Tuesday, rights group Amnesty International released satellite images of Aleppo and the surrounding areas, showing what it says are signs of increased use of heavy weapons. The group says the images raise “urgent concerns” about an impending assault on the city.

It also warns both rebels and government forces that attacks against civilians will be “clearly documented.”

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

“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.”

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