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Syrian rebels exchange 48 Iranians for 2,000 civilian prisoners
Posted By AIM Newswire On January 10, 2013 @ 6:30 am In AIM Newswire | No Comments
DAMASCUS — In one of the most shocking developments yet, the Syrian rebels agreed to a prisoner exchange with the Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad. Iranian nationals, who were being held by the Syrian rebels, were agreed to be exchanged for Syrian civilians held by the government.
In total, 48 Iranian prisoners were released and brought to central Damascus, the nation’s capital, and were exchanged for about 2,000 Syrian civilians. The whereabouts of the civilians were not known, at least when reporters asked the government about that information.
This is one of the most public displays of the Syrian regime, which had always denied it held Syrians prisoner for perceived dissent against the Assad regime. Opposition forces as well as human rights activists have accused Assad of detaining up to tens of thousands of Syrians over his 12-year rule.
The Syrian rebel group, al-Baraa brigade, seized the Iranian nationals last August and threatened to kill them as they believed the Iranians were sent to fight them as a part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Iran denied these claims and insisted they were on a religious pilgrimage and enlisted the help of Qatar and Turkey to convince the rebels to return the imprisoned nationals.
The Iranians entered Damascus in six buses and held white flowers and were greeted by the Iranian ambassador to Syria before heading home.
Even though this marks a peaceful end to a tense issue, it still does not mitigate the death toll of the Syrian civil war. About 60,000 Syrians have been killed in the ongoing war and could climb higher, according to the United Nations.
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