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Page last updated at 07:25 GMT, Monday, 6 August 2012 08:25 UK

Iran 'intimately involved in Syria'

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Anti-government forces in Syria are holding 48 Iranians and they have been shown on television footage on a Dubai-based station.

Iran, which has asked for help from Turkey and Qatar for help in securing their release, says they were pilgrims travelling to a shrine in Damascus but anti-government forces in Syria claim at least some of them are members of Iran's military guard.

Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen told the Today programme Iran is "intimately involved with what happens in Syria" as Tehran is Syria's "most important ally.... really its only external ally".


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