Iranian ambassador welcomes freed Iranian hostages in Damascus
Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - 01:06
Jan. 9 - The Iranian ambassador to Syria welcomes the release of forty eight Iranians by Syrian rebels as they arrive in central Damascus. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: Forty eight Iranians released by Syrian rebels in exchange for the release of more than 2,000 civilian prisoners held by the Syrian government arrived at the Sheraton hotel in central Damascus on Wednesday .
The men were accompanied by the Iranian ambassador to Syria and arrived in six small buses, looking tired but in good health.
Iranian ambassador to Syria Mohammad Rida Shibani said the men were released by Syrian armed rebels after negotiations with many mediators.
Syrian rebel groups have freed 48 Iranians captured over recent months in the country in exchange for prisoners held by Syrian security services, Iran's state-run Press TV said on Wednesday.
Earlier on Wednesday the Turkish humanitarian aid agency IHH said the Syrian government was to free 2,130 civilian prisoners in exchange for the Iranians.
IHH board member Osman Atalay told Reuters most of the prisoners were Syrian but they also included some Turkish nationals and "citizens of other countries". There was no confirmation from the Syrian government.
Iran's Fars news agency reported that the deal was brokered with the assistance of Qatar and Turkey.
The Iranians were captured in Damascus in August by rebel groups who alleged they were members of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Tehran denied this, saying they were Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims visiting a shrine in Syria.
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