Syrian rebels ‘free’ Iranian hostages in swap | Pakistan Today

Syrian rebels ‘free’ Iranian hostages in swap

Syrian rebel groups have freed 48 Iranians captured last year in exchange for prisoners held by Syrian security services, according to Iran’s state-run Press TV. The report did not specify the number of prisoners freed by the government, but said the group included Turks. Earlier on Wednesday, the Turkish humanitarian aid agency IHH said that the Syrian government would free 2,130 prisoners in exchange for the Iranians. Bulent Yildirim, the head of IHH, was in Damascus to help negotiate the deal. “This is the result of months of civil diplomacy carried out by our organisation,” a spokesman for IHH, Serkan Nergis, told the AFP news agency. A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, Ahmed al-Khatib, confirmed the deal, and said it was worked out through negotiation by Turkey and Qatar. The Iranians were captured in Damascus in August by rebel groups, who said the prisoners were members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Rebels released a video showing Iranian military identification cards, allegedly taken from the captives. Tehran denied this, saying they were pilgrims visiting a Shia shrine in Syria.

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