BEIRUT: A previously unknown Syrian opposition group has claimed responsibility for the December kidnapping of five Iranians in Homs and warned both Iran and Hezbollah of the consequences of supporting Damascus.
The previously unheard of group, calling itself the "Movement against the Shiite tide in Syria,” made the claim in a fax sent to the Nicosia offices of Agence France Presse Tuesday.
“We took upon ourselves the task of detecting and hitting all forms of support provided by both Iran and Hezbollah to the criminal [Syrian] regime," the statement said.
The group said the first achievement was “the detention of five Iranians as an initial warning to Iran and Hezbollah of the consequences of their ongoing support of the Syrian regime to suppress the blessed Syrian revolution in all parts of the country in general, and in Homs, the heart of the revolution.”
“We warn Iran and Hezbollah that their members will face the same fate as the five Iranians if they don’t immediately stop providing all forms of support to the criminal regime,” the group said.
Iran’s English-language Press TV reported on Dec. 21 that five Iranian technicians working in Syria were kidnapped by unidentified gunmen in the city of Homs.
Syria's state news agency SANA said that eight engineers "of different nationalities" disappeared after heading by bus to their work at a power plant in Homs province.
Iran, Syria's closest regional ally, welcomed Syria's agreement to admit Arab League monitors to oversee the implementation of a peace plan aimed at ending unrest in that Arab country.
According to United Nations estimates, over 5,000 people have been killed in President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on protesters demanding reforms.