Monday, January 14, 2013

Pilgrim's tale: identity of Iranians kidnapped in Syria begins to emerge

Revolutionary Guards likely to be among the 48 Iranians released by rebels, though Tehran says otherwise

The Guardian

"......It is not unusual of Iranian pilgrims to ignore warnings about travelling to conflict zones. In the turbulent years following the US invasion of Iraq, many Iranians travelled to the country's Shia sites although some were killed in bombings. But Iranian websites are exposing the identity of the former captives of the Syrian rebels, making clear that, in fact, a number of them are currently working for the Revolutionary Guards. It's not clear how many were actual pilgrims.
Digarban, a website that monitors the country's conservatives and their online activities, reported that at least seven guards commanders were among the released prisoners. "Abedin Khoram, the [current] commander of the Revolutionary Guards' division in Orumieh … is among those released who have returned to Iran," it reported.

The website names a number of other people linked to the elite force who are either current of former members. Some of the identities are apparently exposed inadvertently when faces are revealed in welcoming ceremonies held in their hometown or in reports on local news websites.

Iranian officials have so far refused to publish the full list of those who were held in Syria.
In the nearly two years conflict in Syria, Iran has stood firm by Bashar al-Assad and is accused by the west of militarily supporting his regime. Iran initially denied the accusations but in May, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander admitted that Iranian forces were operating in Syria in support of the Assad regime......"

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