BEIRUT: A Shiite preacher warned Thursday that the recent Syrian-Turkish border clash threatens the safety of the remaining pilgrims in Syria.
“The shelling and the retaliation that took place Wednesday between Turkey and Syria is a threat against the lives of the nine pilgrims because they are present in a very sensitive location,” Sheikh Abbas Zogheib said.
The pilgrims were kidnapped by Syrian armed rebels in May while returning from a pilgrimage in Iran, and several media reports said that the rebels are keeping the hostages in the northern Syrian town of Azaz.
According to Zogheib, who has been tasked by the Shiite Higher Council to follow up on the issue of the pilgrims, the Turkish authorities are responsible for ensuring their safety.
“Turkey is responsible today for the presence of the pilgrims in that area. The families of the kidnapped call on Turkish authorities to speed up their release to end this crisis given the danger to their lives.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 05, 2012, on page 4.