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Syrian Diplomat Kidnapped in Tehran, Then Freed

October 3, 1986

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ Kidnappers seized the second-ranking Syrian diplomat in Iran but released him early Friday, a few hours after intercepting his car as he drove home from work, according to official reports in both countries.

Officials in Damascus and Tehran said Iyad Mahmoud was freed after high- level contacts between the governments, both of which sought to play down the short-lived abduction and gave few details.

Iran’s official radio said men in a BMW sedan and an ambulance intercepted Mahmoud’s car in downtown Tehran at 10 p.m. Thursday, forced him into the ambulance, fired six shots into the air and sped away.

Jibrane Kourieh, spokesman for Syrian President Hafez Assad, announced in Damascus that Mahmoud had been freed.

″The matter is over now and Mr. Mahmoud is no longer in the hands of the kidnappers,″ he told reporters at noon. He did not elaborate and refused to answer questions.

Kourieh described Mahmoud as Syria’s consul in Tehran and the second- ranking diplomat at the embassy after after Charge d’Affaires Farouk Abbara.

Foreign Ministry sources said Ambassador Ibrahim Younes left Iran three months ago and has not been replaced.

An official at the Tehran Embassy, who was reached by telephone from Nicosia, Cyprus, but would not give his name, said he had no idea who kidnapped Mahmoud or why.

He added, however, that the abduction was carried out by ″those who serve imperialism and Zionism,″ a phrase Syrian officials customarily use for the United States and Israel.

Political sources in Damascus said Syria considered ″the matter closed.″

It was the second attack in four years on Syria’s diplomatic mission to Iran. A car laden with 88 pounds of explosives blew up outside the Syrian Embassy in May 1982, wounding 16 people and badly damaging the building.

Syria, the Soviet Union’s main Middle East ally, supports Iran in its six- year-old war with Iraq but the two governments have conflicting policies in Lebanon.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fundamentalist government backs the extremist Shiite Moslem Hezbollah, or Party of God, which is at odds with the Syrian- backed Shiite militia Amal.

Iran wants an Iranian-style regime in Lebanon and Syria, the main power broker there, seeks to absorb it into a ″greater Syria.″

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