The Iranian foreign minister confirmed on Wednesday that former members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards were among the Iranians captured in Syria, the ISNA news agency reported.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi denied they had any military role at present and reiterated that pilgrimage to Damascus shrines was the only purpose of their journey.
“Some of those pilgrims used to be Revolutionary Guards members, some of them are retired servicemen,” the minister said.
A total of 48 Iranian pilgrims who were traveling on a bus from the Damascus International Airport were abducted by armed insurgents on Sunday. Their captors said the Iranians were apprehended while on a reconnaissance mission on behalf of the Syrian Army.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian “strongly” denied on Monday that the captured Iranians were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
On Wednesday, Salehi requested the United Nations to assist in freeing the Iranians, saying that three of them had already been killed.