Iran sends envoy to Syria

Iran sends envoy to Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received Saeed Jalili, a top aide to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday.

The official SANA news agency published pictures of the Damascus meeting, the first images of Assad since he received newly appointed armed forces chief General Ali Ayyub on July 22.
Following the talks, Jalali told Iran's Al-Alam Arabic-language television that Tehran was using “all means possible” to secure the release of 48 of its citizens who were kidnapped by a rebel group in Damascus at the weekend.

He said that Tehran held responsible not only the kidnappers but also those foreign governments that provided support for the rebels fighting Assad's forces. “We believe that not only terrorists but also their supporters are responsible for this criminal act,” Jalali said.

Iran, which has voiced growing criticism of support by the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the rebels, also sent its foreign minister to Ankara. Iran has repeatedly denied the captors' claims that the hostages include members of its elite Revolutionary Guards, insisting all 48 are pilgrims who were among the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who visit a revered Shiite shrine in the Damascus suburbs every year.

Jalali said: “The solution of the crisis in Syria must come from within the country and through national dialogue and not through the intervention of outside forces. The only solution to ending the current situation in Syria is by adhering to democracy and respecting the choices of the Syrian people.”

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