Middle East

Syria Fighting Continues

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Fighting continued Sunday in Syria between government forces and rebels for control of the country's second city, Aleppo. In another development, rebels say they are holding a group of Iranians, who they accuse of being on a reconnaissance mission in Damascus. Iran says the group comprises pilgrims.


To another story we're following now. Iran is demanding the release of 48 of its citizens who were kidnapped yesterday in Syria. Iran is Syria's closest ally, and anti-government rebels fighting to oust the Syrian regime say they'll attack Iranian interests in Syria. NPR's Anthony Kuhn has the story from Beirut.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: A video posted to YouTube reports to show uniformed and bearded officers of the Free Syrian Army. Sitting on the ground behind them are the Iranians and behind them are rebel gunmen. Iran claims that the 48 are pilgrims who were kidnapped Saturday en route to a Shiite mosque in Damascus. The rebels accuse them of conducting a reconnaissance mission.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

KUHN: An officer gestures to an Iranian who stands up and produces documents from his sport coat pocket. Upon investigation, we found that they worked for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the officer declares, displaying what he claims is the man's military ID and permit to carry a weapon. We promise Iran, he continued, and all those who support the Syrian regime a fate similar to that of these men.

Iran accuses Turkey and Qatar of supporting the Syrian rebels. Today, it demanded that these countries help it to free its citizens, even as it warned other foreign governments not to intervene in the Syrian conflict. The battle for Syria's largest city, Aleppo, meanwhile, continues. The opposition Syrian National Council says the fighting is now endangering the city's ancient districts, including the medieval citadel that dominates the old city center. Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beirut.

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