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Syrian Rebels Free Iranian Hostages in Prisoner Exchange


Source: Radio Zamaneh

Syrian opposition forces have released the Iranian hostages they've held captive for five months. The 48 Iranian captives were released today, Wednesday, January 9, and IRNA reports that a knowledgeable source at the Iranian embassy in Damascus confirmed the release.

Iranian ambassador welcomes 48 freed Iranian Hostages in Damascus

The Turkish daily Watan reported that the release of Iranian hostages was accomplished through mediation by Turkey and Qatar.

The head of the Turkish Relief foundation in Syria, Bulent Ildrim, reported that the 48 Iranians were "exchanged for 2,130 people in Syria, among whom there were also Turkish citizens."

Iran had reported in November that Turkey and Qatar are negotiating the release of the 48 Iranian captives in Syria.

Related Story: Syrian kidnappers claim their Iranian hostages are IRGC members

Iranian authorities claim that its 48 citizens who were kidnapped in Syria in August were pilgrims on their way to visit the Shrine of Zeynab near Damascus. The military forces who had captured the Iranians accused them of belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Iran denies the accusations but has confirmed that some retired IRGC personnel are among the captives.

Iran remains one of Syrian President Beshar Assad's most faithful allies, while Turkey and Qatar have aligned themselves with Assad's opponents.

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