Syria to swap prisoners for rebel-held Iranians - Turkish NGO

ISTANBUL Wed Jan 9, 2013 2:55pm IST

Related Topics

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The Syrian government will free 2,130 civilian prisoners on Wednesday in exchange for the release of 48 Iranians held by Syrian rebels, a board member of the Turkish humanitarian aid agency IHH said.

The Syrian rebel al-Baraa brigade seized the Iranians in early August and initially threatened to kill them.

"Most of the prisoners to be swapped are Syrian citizens in exchange for Iranians, and there are a few Turks as well," IHH board member Osman Atalay told Reuters.

Citizens of other countries were also among those to be released by the Syrian government, he said.

He quoted IHH chief Bulent Yildirim, who was in Damascus to help coordinate the deal, as saying that the prisoner swap had already begun.

There was no confirmation from the Syrian government.

Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency said the deal was brokered by Turkey and Qatar.

The rebels say the captives were Revolutionary Guards sent by Iran to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces crush their revolt. Iran, one of Assad's closest allies, has said they were pilgrims visiting Shi'ite Muslim shrines.

The IHH came to prominence in May 2010 when Israeli marines stormed its Mavi Marmara aid ship to enforce a naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with activists on board.

The IHH has also played a role in the previous release of Turkish and Syrian citizens in Syria.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall/Mark Heinrich)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Canada Shooting

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fukushima Probe

Fukushima Probe

Japan prosecutors set to rule on possible Fukushima indictments.  Full Article 

Fighting Islamic State

Fighting Islamic State

U.S.-led air strikes killed 553 fighters, 32 civilians in Syria - monitor.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

Official WHO Ebola toll near 5,000 with true number nearer 15,000.  Full Article 

Total CEO Death

Total CEO Death

Russian prosecutors detain four more suspects in Total CEO plane crash.  Full Article | Related Story 

Abducted Girls

Abducted Girls

Nigeria talks with Boko Haram but no sign of girls' release.  Full Article 

Bodies In Locker

Bodies In Locker

Woman charged after 6 infant bodies found in Canadian locker.  Full Article 

Tunisia Polls

Tunisia Polls

Tunisia election tests transition from autocracy to democracy.  Full Article 

Pope's Agenda

Pope's Agenda

Pope Francis plays long game to reform Catholic Church.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage