Syria Govt, Hama Rebels Hold Major Prisoner Swap

112 Prisoners Traded, Large Numbers of Them Civilians

In the village of Qalaat al-Madiq, in the northern Hama Province, the Syrian government and rebels from the Jaish al-Nasr completed a massive prisoner exchange, swapping some 112 people back and forth in a deal overseen by civilian negotiators.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the release, and while the exact split of who was released isn’t wholly clear, a large number of civilians were involved on both sides, with several children freed in the deal. Some of the children were reportedly born in detention.

Some of the detainees were said to have been held since 2011, and those civilians freed by the rebels were transferred to the coastal Latakia Province, a government-held territory. They included large numbers of people from the Alawite religious minority, which is widely targeted by the rebels.

It’s unclear where the civilians released by the government will be going, as the rebels in Hama don’t have a lot of territory, and the closest rebel area, the Idlib Province, is seeing growing internal violence between different rebel factions.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.