Syria: prisoner exchange, rebels release 48 Iranians

NGO initiative with backing of Turkey and Qatar

09 January, 14:39

(ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, JANUARY 9 - A prisoner exchange deal which should see the release of 2,130 detainees held by the Assad regime and 48 Iranians held by Syrian rebel fighters, started Wednesday. The swap was coordinated by Turkish NGO, Foundation for Humanitarian Aid (FHA) and made possible thanks to background negotiations by Turkey and Qatar, FHA chief Bulent Yildirim told Turkish news agency Anadolu.

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).

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © Copyright ANSA