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Assad meets Jalili as Iran seeks hostage release

Assad meets Jalili as Iran seeks hostage release
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Syrian President Basher al-Assad has met Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, in the Syrian capital Damascus.

Jalili is in Syria to secure the release of 48 Iranian hostages held captive by rebels in the suburbs of the capital.

The Baraa Brigades claim to have kidnapped the Iranians on a bus near Damascus. They suspect the group of being members of the Iranian military, sent to help the Assad regime.

Tehran puts the blame on the US.

“There are complex plots in the region and the result is the suffering of the Syrian people. We must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering,” said Jalili.

Iran insists those held are Shi’ite pilgrims visiting religious sites in Syria.

A spokesperson for the rebel group says three of the hostages have been killed as a result of government shelling. The rest have been threatened with death, if the attacks continue.

It is the first time Assad has appeared in public since the assassination of four of his inner circle, three weeks ago.