Five Iranian technicians working on a power plant project in Syria were abducted on Wednesday by an unidentified group of people, the Iranian embassy in Damascus said in a statement, according to the Mehr news agency.
The embassy “has called on the kidnappers to immediately release” the technicians, Mehr said.
The five were taken early on Wednesday as they were on their way to work on the project in Homs, a western city that is a major flashpoint for the unrest that has gripped Syria, according to the report.
“In a statement, Iran’s embassy in Damascus confirmed the abduction of five Iranian engineers in Syria and has called on the kidnappers to release them immediately,” Mehr said.
Meanwhile, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported that eight engineers “of different nationalities” had disappeared after heading by bus to their work at a power plant in Homs province.
The Syrian government is under mounting international pressure to end its crackdown on a nine-month protest movement that has turned violent.
Kidnappings and killings based on religious identity are increasingly common in protest flashpoints such as Homs, sparking international and regional concerns that strife could lead to sustained sectarian bloodshed in Syria.
Iran, Syria’s closest regional ally, has welcomed Syria’s agreement this week to admit Arab League monitors to oversee its implementation of a plan aimed at ending unrest.