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

Mideast Conflict

MH17 Crash

MH17 Crash

Experts recover human remains at Ukraine crash site despite new fighting  Full Article 

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

How Iran sanctions fears hurt humanitarian trade  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

WHO chief says Ebola out of control but can be stopped  Full Article 

Graft in China

Graft in China

Exclusive - China's Xi likely to promote army general who exposed graft: sources  Full Article 

Sanctions on Russia

Sanctions on Russia

Russia has reserves to ride out sanctions - assuming no panic  Full Article 

Anti-gay Law

Anti-gay Law

Ugandan court overturns anti-gay law that halted Western aid  Full Article 

Iraq Crisis

Iraq Crisis

Iraqi foreign minister blames Maliki for Islamist insurgency  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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