Tehran Calls US, Turkey, Qatar Responsible for Lives of Kidnapped Pilgrims
A senior Iranian foreign ministry official said Tehran considers Washington, Ankara and Doha as responsible for the lives of 48 Iranian pilgrims kidnapped in Syria because these states are the main supporters of rebels groups in the Arab country.
"We hold the Turkish government responsible for giving shelter to these armed groups and also if a criminal act is carried out by these groups, such as kidnapping Iranian citizens," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian stated on Monday.
"We also hold the Qatari government accountable. It is worth mentioning that the US is openly supporting the armed groups with ammunition," he added.
"Today we sent a formal memoir to the interest section of the US government in the Swiss embassy, saying we hold Washington responsible for securing the lives of our nationals in Syria," Abdullahian stated.
His remarks came after unconfirmed media reports said three of 48 Iranian pilgrims abducted by insurgents in Syria have been killed.
Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called on the Qatari government to do its best to help release the 48 Iranian pilgrims who were abducted in Syria on Saturday.
Salehi raised the demand in a phone conversation with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani on Saturday evening.
Also on Saturday, Salehi discussed the freedom of the kidnapped Iranian pilgrims in Syria in a telephone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu.
Turkey and Qatar enjoy high influence on Syrian rebel groups.
Iranian pilgrims routinely visit Syria to pay homage to Shiite holy shrines.
A number of Iranians have been abducted by unknown gunmen in Syria over the past months and after unrests spread in the Arab country.
In latest development, 48 Iranian pilgrims who were traveling on a bus from Damascus International Airport to the shrine of Hazrat Zainab (AS) on the outskirts of Damascus were abducted by armed insurgents.