Iran, Turkey, Russia strike deal on Syria detainees

Working group to discuss exchange and release of prisoners held by pro-government forces and rebel groups.

    The Iranian, Turkish and Russian governments have reportedly agreed on a working group for the release of detainees during talks on ending the Syrian conflict in Astana, Kazakhstan.

    Steffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, announced the working group on Friday from Moscow after meeting Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister.

    Iran and Russia support the Syrian government, while Turkey has largely supported rebels fighting against the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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    The news comes on the one-year anniversary of the end of fighting in Aleppo, where rebels backed by Turkey and several Arab countries fought pro-government forces for years.

    The battle of Aleppo began in 2012 and ended in 2016 when pro-government forces took control of the entire city, pushing out the rebels.

    Rebel-held eastern Aleppo was under a months-long siege and a final offensive forced the opposition to agree to a surrender and a withdrawal.

    "We always thought Aleppo was ours. But they took it," Mousa al-Sharif, a displaced resident of Aleppo, told Al Jazeera.

    "We were forced to leave. Now we're living a difficult life and no one is helping us."

    "It was a strategic gain for the Syrian government, but they have not shown a willingness to compromise with their enemies," Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said.

    The next talks on Syria's peace process will take place in the Russian resort city of Sochi from January 29 to 30.

    Is the war in Syria really almost over?

    Inside Story

    Is the war in Syria really almost over?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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