A complicated, ambitious three-way prisoner swap has taken place in Syria, seeing the Assad government release 61 female detainees in a hostage swap with Syria’s Northern Storm Brigade rebels and an unnamed Lebanese gunmen.
The government released the detainees over the past two days, and Northern Storm released nine Lebanese Shi’ite pilgrims they kidnapped over a year ago. Related to the deal was a Lebanese group releasing two Turkish pilots they’d kidnapped in August.
The deal was brokered by Qatar, and appeared to get a big shot in the arm when al-Qaeda invaded the northern city of Azaz, one of the key Northern Storm bases. The group, apparently afraid al-Qaeda would take their hostages away from them, quickly hammered out a deal.
The deal was said to be quite difficult to finalize because the list of female detainees included several mistakes in the names, and it took Syria quite some time to figure out who they wanted. Likewise, there was concern about the Lebanese group releasing the pilots, but once that happened, it was clear the deal was in place.
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