Former hostage Frank Reed has appealed to Syrian President Hafez Assad to help free 13 Westerners still held in Lebanon.

"I beg you and all nations within the community of man to reach into their wells of justice and sense of humanity and come to their rescue," Reed wrote in a letter to Assad. He wants to meet with the Syrian president."What a perfect season for Syria to demonstrate to all Americans and the world that its sense of humanity and human caring goes beyond standing guard together in the sands of Arabia," the letter said.

Reed said Sunday he discussed the hostages during a 30-minute meeting in Washington Dec. 14 with Syrian Ambassador Walid Al-Moualem. He gave Al-Moualem letters for Assad and followed up with a mailgram Dec. 27, but said he has received no reply.

Al-Moualem had greeted Reed when he was released in Damascus, Syria, last April after 44 months in captivity. Six of the 13 are Americans, but no Americans have been freed since Reed and Robert Polhill were released within nine days of each other.

"Bothering me was the enormous attention paid in the media and by our administration to people who were detained in Iraq and living in special conditions that in no way could be comparable to what the situation was in Lebanon," Reed said. "So I decided to take it upon myself and go to the Syrian government."

Reed noted in one letter that it was the sixth Christmas in captivity for Terry Anderson, 43, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, and Thomas Sutherland, 59, acting dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut.

Peggy Say, Anderson's sister, plans to travel to Lebanon in January and has vowed not to return without her brother.

The other American captives are Joseph Cicippio, 59, acting comptroller at the American University in Beirut; Edward Tracy, 59, West Beirut resident; Alann Steen, 51, a communications instructor at Beirut University College; and Jesse Turner, 42, professor of mathematics and computer science at Beirut University College.