TEHRAN — The situation in Syria is "calm," requiring no repatriation of Iranian citizens there, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Sunday, according to the official news agency IRNA.

"Syria is calm and Iranian nationals who are there have no problem and there is no need to conduct any special action" for them, Salehi was quoted as saying.

The minister's comments were made the same day a British-based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Syrian government troops used tanks to besiege an outlying district of Damascus, a week after heavy clashes first broke in the capital.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said there was combat in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, and four rebel fights were killed in Idlib, in the country's northwest.

At least 19,000 people have been killed in violence in Syria since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt in March 2011, the Observatory said.

Iran is the chief ally of Syria's beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad.

Several hundred thousand Iranians travel to Syria each year to make pilgrimages to a Shiite holy site south of Damascus.