News / Middle East

Syria Frees 10 Women Prisoners in Hostage Swap

A general view shows a deserted road that leads to Deir al-Zor, Oct. 22, 2013.
A general view shows a deserted road that leads to Deir al-Zor, Oct. 22, 2013.
Reuters
Syrian authorities have released 10 women jailed for helping the opposition, the first batch of 126 women expected to be freed in the final stages of a three-way hostage swap, activists said on Wednesday,

The women's release was the main demand of kidnappers in northern Syria who had held nine Lebanese men hostage for 17 months. Those hostages and two Turkish pilots abducted in Lebanon were freed last week under a deal negotiated by Qatar.

“They [the 10 women] were released overnight. We do not know if more will be released today or later, or if that is it. We are waiting,” said a Syrian human rights activist.

Syria has made no official comment about the release, nor has it acknowledged having any role in a hostage exchange deal.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, said Damascus had released dozens of prisoners last week, who also may have been part of the deal.

Syrian rebels kidnapped the Lebanese men in May 2012, accusing them of belonging to Hezbollah, whose militants are fighting alongside Assad's forces in Syria. The men's families say they were pilgrims who had been on their way home from visiting Shi'ite shrines in Iran.

The Turkish pilots were abducted by relatives of the Lebanese hostages to put pressure on a country they believe holds sway with the opposition. Turkey hosts many opposition groups and has generally kept its border open to the rebels.

The long deadlock in hostage negotiations was finally broken by a new push from Turkey and Qatar, whose officials acted as mediators to the final deal.

Little information has emerged about the women prisoners now being released or when they were originally detained. But they are believed to those whose release Syrian rebels had originally demanded as the price for freeing the Lebanese hostages.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid