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Ahmad Saleh, a Tal Rifaat resident who fled to Turkey, said the town was shelled Monday from the nearby air base of Minnegh, killing at least two people. “We had to choose between dying in Syria and coming to Turkey,” he said.

A video posted online by activists Tuesday showed a large group of Free Syrian Army rebels in military fatigues and carrying rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles. The fighters were seen announcing that they were joining the “Unification Brigade,” the main group of rebels in Aleppo, to assist in the “liberation” of the city.

“They have Satan on their side, we have God on ours,” one rebel shouted. “We are coming, Aleppo,” shouted another. The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.

Despite a ferocious crackdown, rebels in Syria have grown more confident and are using increasingly bolder tactics both in Aleppo and in the capital, Damascus.

In a daylight attack, rebels on Saturday abducted a group of 48 Iranians near Damascus, branding them as spies assisting in Assad’s crackdown.

Iran says those captured when their bus was commandeered were pilgrims visiting a Shiite shrine on the outskirts of Damascus, and Jalili said Tuesday that Iran would spare no effort to secure their release.

“We believe that the abduction of innocent people could not be accepted by any rational person. We believe that the parties that support those terrorist groups to commit such disgraceful acts, are their partners,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it holds the U.S. responsible for the fate of the abducted Iranians.

Iran’s state IRNA news agency said the ministry summoned the Swiss envoy in Tehran late Monday to stress that Iran expects Washington to use its influence to secure the Iranians’ release. The Swiss look after U.S. interests in Iran since Tehran and Washington have no diplomatic relations.

The Iranian Embassy in Turkey said Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was traveling Tuesday to Turkey, where he was to meet with his Turkish counterpart to discuss Syria and the abducted Iranians.

Syrian rebels claimed three of the Iranian captives were killed on Monday during shelling by government forces in Damascus and its suburbs, and threatened to kill the remaining Iranians unless the army stopped its bombardment.

“The Syrian regime is responsible for anything that happens to the Iranians,” a representative of the Baraa Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the group’s abduction, told The Associated Press on Skype.

The representative’s claim that three were killed could not be independently verified. An official at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus said he had no information on the subject.

Associated Press writers Bassem Mroue in Kilis, Turkey, Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Adam Schreck in Baghdad and Matthew Lee in Pretoria, South Africa, contributed to this report.