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Activists: Syria Frees 61 Female Prisoners

Activists say Syria has freed 61 female detainees as part of a complex three-way prisoner exchange involving the rebels and brokered by Qatar and the Palestinian Authority.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that at least 67 more prisoners are expected to be freed.

The Observatory says that under the deal, Syrian rebels freed nine Lebanese Shi'ites, while Lebanese Shi'ites freed two Turkish pilots. The rest of the deal called for the women to be released.

Syrian officials have not commented.

The Observatory also says a Syrian court has ordered the release of prominent Syrian blogger and activist Tal al-Mallouhi. She was sentenced to five years in prison in 2011 on charges of spying.

Also Thursday, the United Nations mission overseeing the dismantling of Syria's chemical weapons program said the government planned to turn over the initial blueprints of a plan for destroying its existing stockpile. Syria has agreed to turn over its chemical arsenal for destruction by the middle of next year.

The inspectors have been to most of the production sites disclosed by Syria, where crews are rendering the equipment inoperable. The group expressed confidence that Syria's capability to make any new weapons will be destroyed by a November 1 deadline.

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