Iran's official news agency says gunmen in Syria have kidnapped five Iranian engineers building a power plant in a central region of the country roiled by political unrest.

Wednesday's report quotes a statement from Iran's Embassy in Damascus as saying that the engineers were seized Tuesday morning on their way to work in the city of Homs.

The statement says Iranian authorities have asked the Syrian government to identify the assailants and get the engineers released.

Syria has been Iran's closest ally in the Arab world for three decades.

The 9-month-old uprising in Syria has left President Bashar Assad with few international allies -- with the vital exception of Iran, which the U.S. and other nations say is helping drive the deadly crackdown on dissent.

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