Syria frees women detainees in hostage deal

Sixty-two prisoners released as part of three-way deal to free Lebanese and Turkish hostages.

    The Syrian government has released a total of 62 women detainees as part of a three-way prisoner exchange, Al Jazeera has learned.

    Sources said on Thursday that the women had been released over the past two days. 

    "We can expect more releases, but we have no confirmation that this will take place," Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from the Bakaa Valley, said.

    There was no immediate comment from Syrian officials.

    Nine Lebanese Shia hostages held for 17 months by a rebel group in northern Syria were exchanged on Saturday for two Turkish pilots held in Lebanon since August.

    The release of scores of female detainees held in government jails formed part of the deal arranged by Turkey, Qatar and Lebanon.

    Our correspondent said the deal has prompted a belief that many more deals between the Syrian government and the opposition might be forthcoming. 

    Most of the women were released at the Masnaa crossing, near Lebanon. Many have since returned to their homes in Syria.

    Tens of thousands of people are being detained by the Syrian regime, many of them without trial, activists say. Rights groups say torture and ill-treatment are systematic in Syria's jails.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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