Tehran: Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has called on Turkey and Qatar to help release 48 Iranian Shia pilgrims abducted in Syria, RIA Novosti reported Sunday.
In phone conversations held with his Turkish and Qatari counterparts Ahmet Davutoglu and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani respectively Saturday, Salehi requested both countries to intervene immediately to secure the release of the abducted Iranians.
On Saturday, the 48 pilgrims who were travelling on a bus from the Damascus international airport to the Hazrat Zainab shrine on the outskirts of the Syrian capital were abducted by armed insurgents.
This is not the first time Iranians have been abducted by armed gunmen in Syria.
In January, armed assailants attacked a bus and abducted 11 Iranian pilgrims on the road between Damascus and the northwestern city of Aleppo.
In December 2011, armed men kidnapped five engineers in Homs city while they were on their way to work at the city`s Jandar power plant being built by Iranian technicians. Two other Iranians who tried to determine the fate of the engineers were also abducted.