Iran's embassy in Beirut this week released a statement claiming that Israel is holding four Iranian diplomats who vanished in Lebanon in 1982.
"This is what we have concluded from the information we have, which comes from a variety of sources, and which has no contradictory evidence," says the statement, issued to mark the 26th anniversary of their disappearance.
Hezbollah is demanding that Israel present a document detailing the incident, which occurred during Israel's first war in Lebanon, as part of the imminent prisoner exchange between the two sides. The fate of the four has been raised during every round of negotiations between Hezbollah and Israel in recent years.
The Iranian statement also claims that Israel is responsible for the fates of the diplomats, as it was the occupying force in Lebanon at the time. It also said that Tehran will continue efforts to establish what happened to the four via the international community.
After years of tension, Israel had invaded Lebanon in 1982 in an effort to halt Palestinian attacks on its population centers in the north.
The four Iranian diplomats disappeared in southern Lebanon in July 1982. They were led by Ahmad Motevaselian, the head of an 800-strong unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard based in Lebanon during the country's civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. The three others were the interim ambassador to Lebanon, Muhsen Mousavi, the bureau chief of the Iranian news agency in Lebanon, Kazem Akhavan, and Taki Rastegah Mukadam, their driver who had dual Iranian-Lebanese nationality.
As far as is known, the four were arrested by Christian Phalangists at a roadblock in southern Lebanon and were killed by the same militia a short time later. According to one version of events, the burial place of the four has been built over, preventing the recovery of the bodies.
The Phalangist commander, Samir Geagea, has said several times that his men detained and killed the four diplomats, on the orders of his predecessor Eli Hobeika, who was killed several years ago.
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