Tehran: Tehran has now admitted that retired members of its Revolutionary Guards and army are among 48 Iranians taken hostage in Syria by rebels.
In an embarrassing u-turn for Iran, which has always said that the hostages are pilgrims, the country’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was forced to admit that military personnel are among them.
“A number of the (hostages) are retired members of the Guards and the army. Some others were from other ministries,” the Telegraph quoted Salehi, as saying.
Salehi, however, stressed that the former military personnel were exclusively on a religious pilgrimage to Damascus when they were seized on Saturday.
Iran had previously claimed the 48 Iranians were only pilgrims travelling to a holy Muslim site in Damascus.
This was the first time that the country has admitted that any of them had a connection to its military.
On Sunday, Syrian rebels posted a video of the hostages and claimed they were members of Iran``s elite Revolutionary Guards on a ‘reconnaissance mission.’
On its Facebook page, the rebel group on said three of the Iranians had been killed in shelling by Syrian regime forces.