Turkish citizens are among the prisoners. "The prisoner exchange has started in Damascus and now we're going to another location where more prisoners will be released", Yildirim said. Iran's English language new service, PressTv, confirmed the release of 48 Iranians, describing them as "pilgrims kidnapped near Damascus by militia with foreign backing".
In turn Syrian opposition groups accuse Iran of supporting President Bashar al-Assad's regime of repression. Last year the FHA secured the release in Syria of various Turkish citizens, including two journalists, as well as 28 Iranians and seven Syrians. (ANSAmed).