Eleven Iranian pilgrims recently abducted in restive Syria have been freed, an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday without speaking of the fate of more than a dozen other captive Iranians there.
“With the aid of friendly countries... 11 pilgrims have been released,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in his regular weekly briefing, without giving further details.
The 11 were among 22 Iranian Shiite pilgrims who were kidnapped in Syria since late December.
Separately, another seven Iranians, described as engineers, were abducted near the central flashpoint city of Homs, also in December.
The rebel Free Syrian Army last month claimed it was holding five Iranian military officers in Homs. It was not clear whether the five referred to were among the seven abducted engineers or were a separate group.
Mehmanparast gave no indication as to the conditions of these other captive Iranians.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians travel to Syria each year to visit a Shiite holy site, the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, in southern Damascus.
Iran’s passport and immigration service last week banned Iranians from going to Syria by road to reduce the risk of further abductions.
Syria, Iran’s principal ally in the Middle East, is roiled by a near year-long uprising that has seen more than 6,000 people killed, according to human rights groups.