Abducted Iranian Minister Jalal Sharafi Is Released

Iranian News is reporting that a kidnapped minister is returning home to Iraq. Jalal Sharafi was kidnapped by gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms in February:

Jalal Sharafi, second secretary of Iran’s Embassy in Iraq, who was abducted in Baghdad on February 4, arrived in Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport after being released on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and a number of the ministry’s officials welcomed Sharafi at the airport.

The US had no knowledge on his release since they were not holding him:

Sharafi, 40, was abducted in Karrada, a predominantly Shiite southeastern district of Baghdad, on February 4 by gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms outside a branch of the Iranian state-owned Bank Melli.

His abduction came amid increasing tension between Iran and the United States, which arrested five Iranians on January 11 in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on suspicion of aiding and abetting the Iraqi insurgency.

But on Tuesday the US military expressed ignorance of Sharafi’s release.

“We were not holding him, so we do not know about his release,” said spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver.

Iran is now seeking the release of the 5 guards members captured in Erbil in January.

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