Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has called on the United Nations to act immediately to obtain the release of the Iranian nationals abducted in Syria and Libya.
"The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran calls for the immediate release of its abducted nationals and is of the view that using the hostages as human shields violates… international law and (the) human rights of these innocent civilians," Salehi said in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday.
“I would like to seek the cooperation and the good offices of Your Excellency for securing the release of these hostages,” he added.
A UN spokesman confirmed that the letter had been received but did not offer an immediate response.
Meanwhile, during a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara on Tuesday, the Iranian foreign minister asked for Turkey’s assistance in efforts to obtain the release of the Iranian nationals abducted in Syria.
Davutoglu said he feels like the abducted Iranians are citizens of his own country and pledged to do his utmost to obtain their release. He also noted that Iran and Turkey have close ties and common interests.
On the unrest in Syria, Salehi said that the situation is at a critical juncture, adding that Turkey should help the efforts to find a political solution in order to prevent a catastrophe.
On August 4, 48 Iranians, who were travelling on a bus from Damascus International Airport to the shrine of Hazrat Zeinab (AS) on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, were abducted by insurgents. Three of the abductees have reportedly been killed. Insurgents from the self-proclaimed Free Syrian Army have threatened to kill the other abductees.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians travel to Syria every year to visit the Shrine of Hazrat Zeinab (AS) in Damascus.
On July 31, gunmen kidnapped a seven-member delegation from the Iranian Red Crescent visiting the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. The Iranian delegation travelled to Libya at the invitation of the Libyan Red Crescent to discuss various prospects for cooperation in the field of humanitarian assistance.
The Iranian foreign minister left Ankara on a flight to Tehran early on Wednesday morning.