Iran demands release of 7 nationals held in Syria

Iran has demanded the release of seven of its nationals who were abducted last month in restive Syria, media reported.

Tehran: Iran has demanded the release of
seven of its nationals who were abducted last month in restive
Syria, media reported on Wednesday.

"According to the last information we have, they are in
good health and we are trying to obtain their release,"
foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as
saying.

The seven are said to be engineers or technicians working
on an electricity power plant in Jandar, close to the city of
Homs, which has become one of the flashpoints in the Syrian
uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

An unknown group calling itself the "Movement Against the
Expansion of Shiism in Syria" on Monday claimed responsibility
for their abduction in a statement received in Nicosia.
The group said it had sent demands to the Iranian embassy
in Damascus last week that have to be met for the hostages to
be released.

It said it was opposed to Iran`s support of the Syrian
government and of the Hezbollah militia in neighbouring
Lebanon.

Iran, a predominantly Shiite country, is the main ally of
Syria, whose regime is controlled by the Shiite minority
Alawite branch while most of the country is Sunni.

Iranian officials have not spoken of the abductors.
The kidnapped Iranians` employer, the Iran Power Plant
Projects Management Company, or Mapna, yesterday said the
families and colleagues of the men were worried.

Its public relations director, Behnam Haghighi, called on
"international bodies" to help with the men`s release,
according to the official news agency IRNA.

Five of Mapna`s employees were initially abducted. The
other two were taken when they went to investigate their
colleagues` disappearance.

PTI