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Iranian foreign minister thanks Turkey

09 January 2013 09:33 (Last updated 09 January 2013 23:34)
Iranian FM Salehi thanked Turkey for its contribution to release of Iranian citizens in Syria.

DAMASCUS

Iran thanked Turkey for its efforts regarding release of Iranian citizens in Syria.

Diplomatic officials said that upon demand by Iran, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had a phone conversation with Iranian FM Ali Akbar Salehi.
Salehi thanked Turkey for its contribution to release of Iranian citizens in Syria in the phone conversation, officials said.
In August 2012, 48 Iranians who had come to Damascus for a religious visit were taken hostage by Syrian opposition groups.

48 Iranians were held captive by the Syrian opposition.

Humanitarian Diplomacy

Last August, 48 Iranians who had come to Damascus for a religious visit were taken as prisoners by the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The FSA had argued that the 48 Iranians were part of a 150-member Iranian group who had come to Syria for surveillance and that some of them belonged to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Palestinian journalist Bashar al-Qaddumi and Turkish cameraman Cuneyt Unal were taken hostage by Assad forces on August 21, 2012.
Cuneyt Unal was handed over to a delegation of Turkey's Republican People's Party (CHP) in Syria on November 17, 2012 after being held captive for 90 days.
There has been no information on Qaddumi since the day he was taken hostage.
The IHH Humanitarian Aid Foundation in 2012 helped the release of many Turkish nationals, including journalists Adem Ozkose and Hamit Coskun, who were held captive in Syria as well as 28 Iranian nationals and 7 Syrians who were kept in prisons.


Iranians released in exchange for 2,130 people in taken prisoner by Syrian regime

Iranian Embassy in Damascus confirmed on Wednesday that 48 of their nationals were released.
The 48 Iranian nationals were released by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) but have not been brought to the Iranian Embassy in Damascus yet, Iran's official news agency IRNA said on Wednesday reporting from Beirut.

Lebanon Shia Higher Council member said Turkey helped solving the issue  

Lebanon Shia Higher Council member Sheikh Abbas Zogheib, who was responsible for the Lebanese citizens abducted in Syria, said that prisoner exchange was completed successfully and Turkey helped solving the issue. 
Answering the questions of AA, Zogheib said that Turkey influenced the solution, and added they would like Turkey to try the exchange to include 9 Lebanese citizens too abducted in Syria earlier.

More than 1,000 refugees got released

Exchange of prisoners in the Syrian capital city of Damascus continues on Wednesday under the mediation of Turkey and Qatar.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) in Damascus, the Chairperson of the IHH Humanitarian Aid Foundation Bulent Yildirim indicated that "more than 1,000 refugees got released in the initial phase of the deal."
"Two Turkish nationals out of a total of four at the hands of Assad forces have been released on Wednesday. We expect others to be released as well. The remaining prisoners continue to be released in various security centers in different corners of Syria," Yildirim noted.
"48 Iranian nationals have been released in Duma region of Damascus on Wednesday. IHH official Izzet Sahin is accompanying the Iranians. In exchange, 2,130 people, including many women and children, are being transferred by buses after being kept at the Syrian Interior Ministry. Two of the four Turkish nationals at the hands of Assad forces have been released on Wednesday. We expect others to be released as well. More than 1,000 refugees have been released in the initial phase. Among the prisoners were children born in 1998, 1999 and 2000 as well as 74 women," Yildirim stressed.



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