damascus ready for prisoner swap with opposition
Last Updated : GMT 06:49:16
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Arab Today, arab today
Last Updated : GMT 06:49:16
Arab Today, arab today

Damascus ready for prisoner swap with opposition

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Damascus ready for prisoner swap with opposition

A Syrian man walks past destroyed buildings in the rebel-held town of Douma
Damascus - Arab Today

Syria’s regime is ready to release detainees in exchange for hostages held by opposition fighters, the official SANA news agency reported Monday, ahead of peace talks in the Kazakh capital.
“The government is ready... as part of efforts toward the next meeting in Astana to exchange detainees for men, women and children — civilians and soldiers — kidnapped by terrorists,” SANA said, referring to the fighters.
Kazakhstan has invited Syrian fighters and regime officials to peace talks on Wednesday and Thursday in Astana, after a first round last month organized by regime backers Russia and Iran and opposition ally Turkey.
The Syrian regime’s position comes after the “success... of the Syrian state in freeing numerous civilians and soldiers kidnapped by terrorist groups,” the agency cited an official source as saying.
On Wednesday, the authorities handed over 55 detainees — who were mostly women and included eight children — in exchange for the release of 57 civilians including 19 children from the coastal city of Latakia who had been held by the opposition since 2013.
Official media broadcast images of President Bashar Assad and his wife Asma receiving the former hostages. The Astana talks are to be followed by a new round of UN-sponsored peace talks in Geneva on Feb. 20.
Meanwhile, terrorists seen as close to Daesh battled a rival hard-line faction on Monday in northwestern Syria, a war monitor and an official with another insurgent group said, in an escalating power struggle.
Jund Al-Aqsa and Tahrir Al-Sham clashed around Kafr Zeita in the countryside north of Hama, and near Tamaniaa, Khan Sheikhoun and Tal Aaas in southern Idlib Province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor.
An official with an opposition group that fights under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which was not involved in Monday’s confrontations, confirmed the fighting.
Since the regime’s army took Aleppo in December, some of the many armed groups in the northwest have consolidated into factions that are now fighting each other for control of territory and resources.
Tahrir Al-Sham was formed in January from a merger of Syria’s former branch of Al-Qaeda, previously known as the Nusra Front and Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, along with several other radical groups
Jund Al-Aqsa and Fateh Al-Sham fell out late last year despite having previously aligned with each other, and insurgent sources and the Observatory say Jund Al-Aqsa’s ideology is closer to that of Daesh group, Al-Qaeda’s main rival.
Both Tahrir Al-Sham and Jund Al-Aqsa are also fighting against an alliance of another radical group, Ahrar Al-Sham, and opposition factions fighting under the FSA banner. Radical groups attacked the FSA for sending delegates to peace talks in Kazakhstan last month. 
Syria’s war has killed more than 310,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with anti-regime protests.

Source: Arab News

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