BEIJING, Aug. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- The Syrian rebels who seized 48 Iranians on Saturday in Syria, says they captured them after their intelligence information suggested Iran was sending groups of reconnaissance missions into the country.
In an interview broadcast on Dubai-based al-Arabiya television, the commander of the al-Baraa brigade of the Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.
Abdel Nasser al-Shumair, Commander, al-Baraa Brigade, Free Syrian Army, said, "This operation took action after we received intelligence information revealing that Iran has sent groups on a reconnaissance mission in Damascus. And after two months of investigations, we managed to capture some members of an Iranian revolutionary guards group."
Iran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help secure the release of the 48 people.
Iranian media said on Saturday that a bus load of Iranians were abducted by gunmen while on a pilgrimage in Syria.
Tehran has accused Turkey and Qatar of helping rebels fighting to topple Assad. Iran has praised the Syrian leader for promising political reforms.
Several Iranians previously abducted in Syria have been released to Turkish authorities before returning to Iran. But the rebels said they were not in contact with any country over the release of the Iranians.