On December 16, Syrian authorities and Turkish-backed militants swapped prisoners under a deal that was brokered by Russia and Turkey.
The prisoners swap took place on the Abu al-Zandin crossing which links Turkish-occupied areas with areas held by Syrian government forces in the northern Aleppo countryside. The United Nations and the Red Crescent oversaw the deal.
Turkish-backed militants released five service members of the Syrian Arab Army who were captured on different occasions. The freed captives were identified as Wassef Hamdan, Mortada Mahfouz, Milad Ashour, Hani al-Youssef and Ammar al-Abdullah.
عملية تبادل اسرى بين النظام والجيش الوطني
5 من الجيش الوطني مقابل 5 من جنود النظام pic.twitter.com/7EfQi3BUPN
— عقاب فلسطين (@s2udFqewzZOZrQU) December 16, 2021
From its side, Syrian authorities released five captives who were identified by opposition sources as Ibrahim al-Hussein, Ibrahim al-Tayeb, Ibrahim Askar, Muhammad al-Kurdi and Abdul Latif Haj Abban.
جرت اليوم عملية تبادل للأسرى بين الجيش الوطني السوري والنظام السوري بضمانة الجانبين التركي والروسي وذلك وفقا لما تم الاتفاق عليه في مباحثات أستانة السابقة وعليه تم تبادل 5 أسرى بين كلا الطرفين على معبر أبو الزندين الفاصل بين النظام والمعارضة في مدينة الباب pic.twitter.com/VxGkBVZVsK
— Âla hacıoğlu 🌸🇹🇷 (@ala_hacioglu) December 16, 2021
In the last three years, Syrian authorities swapped prisoners with Turkish-backed militants in the northern countryside of 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 currently preparing to hold a new round of talks on Syria in the Kazakhstani capital. According to recent reports, the round will likely be held between December 20 and 22.