The hostages consist of eleven Shiite male pilgrims who were kidnapped last week in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo. The hostages were returning from a religious pilgrimage in Iran. The women and elderly men who were detained have already been released.
With the current instability in Syria, “Turkish citizens are being abducted and sometimes killed in crossfire between the opposition rebels and the regime forces,” according to Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Selcuk Unal. According to Mr. Unal, doubts remain on “whether the kidnapped are still alive.”
According to dissidents and the Associated Press, the kidnappers demands include the release of five hundred detainees, including Lt. Col. Hussein Harmoush – one of the first officers to defect from the Syrian regime. Harmoush has been held by the regime since he was arrested.