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Syria: Iran Says 11 Hostages Freed, 18 Held

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
Iran's deputy foreign minister says 11 kidnapped Iranians in Syria have been released but 18 others are still being held hostage.

Hossein Amir Abdollahian declined to say how the 11 were freed.

He told a news conference in Damascus on February 8 that the kidnappers wanted to pressure Tehran to abandon its support for the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

He said Tehran would continue to support Assad "within the framework of his reform program and in fighting foreign intervention and terrorism."

Iran is one of Syria's closest and most powerful regional allies.

It has denied any interference in Syria’s internal affairs or charges of providing aid for its deadly crackdown on antiregime protests.