A brigade of the Free Syrian Army has given the Syrian regime 48 hours to release opposition detainees and stop the shelling of civilians before it begins executing a number of Iranian hostages accused of helping the President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Al Arabiya TV reported on Friday.
In a video aired by Al Arabiya, members of the Bar’a brigade in the East Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, said, “If the Syrian regime, backed by the Iranian regime, does not release detainees and stop the shelling on unarmed civilians and indiscriminate killing of innocent of people within 48 hours from the release of this statement, an Iranian prisoner will be killed for each martyr who is killed.”
In a previous video aired by Al Arabiya, and which can be viewed at: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/08/05/230496.html, the Al Bara’a brigade claimed that it kidnaped 48 members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards and denied Iran’s claims that they were pilgrims.
The brigade “captured 48 of the Shabiha (militiamen) of Iran who were on a reconnaissance mission in Damascus,” said a man dressed as an officer of the Free Syrian Army, in the video aired by Al Arabiya.
“During the investigation, we found that some of them were officers of the Revolutionary Guards,” he said, showing ID documents taken from one of the men, who appeared in the background with a large Syrian independence flag held by two armed men behind them.
Abdel Nasser Shmeir, interviewed later by Al Arabiya and presented as the commander of Baraa Brigade, gave similar details.
“They are 48, in addition to an Afghani interpreter,” he said, claiming that the captives were members of a 150-strong group sent by Iran for “reconnaissance on the ground.”
Iran has appealed to Turkey and Qatar, both with close relations with the Syrian opposition, for help in securing the release of the hostages it claims were pilgrims visiting the Sayyida Zeinab shrine, a Shiite pilgrimage site in the southeastern suburbs of Damascus.
Shmeir said his men “have not yet entered into any contacts” about the hostages.