Iran says likely to help find 3 Americans kidnapped in Iraq
Tehran, Iran, January 25
By Mehdi Sepahvand - Trend:
The US has requested from Iran to help find three Americans who went missing in Iraq, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said.
If Iran is able to help, it will do so, the spokesman stated in a weekly press conference in Tehran, Trend correspondent reported January 25.
Previously, the US Secretary of State John Kerry requested Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to assist with the issue of missing Americans.
Unknown gunmen seized the three on January 15 from a private residence in the southeastern Dora district of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said. They are the first Americans to be abducted in Iraq since the withdrawal of US troops in 2011.
The three men had been employed by a small company that is doing work for General Dynamics Corp (GD.N), under a larger contract with the US Army, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Early reports accused Iran of being behind the kidnapping, including Reuters which claimed so by quoting "two Iraqi intelligence and two U.S. government sources".
However, Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the Americans were abducted by "criminal gangs", expressing doubt that any political motivation was behind the abduction.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said if Iran provides help, it would be on humanitarian grounds, "which was there in the recent prisoner swap [with the US] as well."
Recently Iran released four Iranian-American prisoners, namely Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian; Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor; Amir Hekmati, a former US Marine, and another inmate named Nosratollah Khosravi.
Simultaneously, the US freed seven Iranian prisoners most of whom had been arrested on sanctions-related charges.