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Syrian Authorities, Turkish-Backed Militants Swap Prisoners Under Russian-Brokered Deal

Syrian authorities and Turkish-backed militants swapped prisoners as a part of a deal that was brokered by the Ministry of Defense of Russia in the context of Astana framework.

The prisoners swap took place on the Abu al-Zandin crossing which links Turkish-occupied areas in northern Aleppo with areas held by Syrian government forces. The United Nations and the Red Crescent oversaw the deal.

Turkish-backed militants released five soldiers and officers of the Syrian Arab Army who were captured on different occasions. The freed captives were identified as Fahim Youssef Hamdan, Mortada Mahfouz, Milad Ashour, Hani al-Youssef and Ammar al-Abdullah.

In return, Syrian authorities released five militants, Hussein Issa, Mohammed Hamdo al-Boulad, Ahmed Shamia, Hassan al-Hais and Mohammed al-Rifai.

This was not the first such deal. Over the last three years, Syrian authorities swapped prisoners with Turkish-backed militants in northern Aleppo and al-Qaeda factions in the region of Greater Idlib on several occasions. All the deals were brokered in the framework of the Astana Peace Talks.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are set to hold the next round of talks on peace in Syria in the Kazakhstani capital between the 6th and 8th of July.

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