The Damascus government and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups swapped prisoners on February 12 as part of a peace process brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey.
“As the second project of the Working Group on the Release of Detainees/Abductees, Handover of Bodies and Identification of Missing Persons … Several persons detained by the opposition groups and the regime were mutually and simultaneously released … The Working Group will continue its activities in the coming period,” a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey reads.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the FSA released 20 people, including former Syrian soldiers, while the Damascus government released 20 detainees from its prisons. Some of the detainees released by the government are reportedly pro-opposition fighters.
The Working Group was established within the framework of the Astana process with the participation of Turkey, Russia and Iran as well as the United Nations. Last November, the group managed to organize the first prisoners swap between the Damascus government and Turkish-backed groups.
Despite these efforts, hundreds of pro-government civilians and dozens of Syrian soldiers are still being held by radical militants in Idlib. So far, the Working Group has failed to propel the release of these captives.