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Syria Fighting Continues


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.


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.


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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.