Another prisoner swap deal expected in Syria’s Douma after Homs

Another prisoner swap deal expected in Syria’s Douma after Homs
Thu May 15, 2014 22:15:54

Thousands of civilians and army soldiers in Syria’s Douma are expected to be freed soon, as the Syrian government and militant groups are preparing for a new ceasefire and prisoners swap agreement, following Homs deal.

Militants began to evacuate their last footholds in the central city of Homs on May 7th, departing under a key deal that returned safety to the epicenter of the deadly insurgency that has been gripping Syria for more than three years.

The agreement paved way for formation of a committee named People’s Committee for National Reconciliation, which started working to make the same agreement in other parts of Syria.

Jaber Eisa, head of the reconciliation committee, said on Thursday they are hoping to make a prisoners swap deal in Douma, located in north-east of capital Damascus, by which they could free thousands of people abducted by armed groups.

A number of militants will be freed in return if the deal is forged, Eisa said, according to Arabic language al-Manar TV.

He added, as a first step to build confidence, the militant side is going to free an eight-member abducted family in return for one of the female prisoners the Syrian army is holding.

Eisa did not say who the woman was and with which one of the numerous militant groups fighting in Syria they are negotiating; but some observers believe the main side of the deal could be the so-called Islamic Front. The group which enjoys support from Saudi Royal family has made similar deals with the government in Aleppo and Rif Latakia before.

Eisa added based on the initial negotiations, 1,500 families as well as three Syrian army commanders, abducted last month in Adra, would be freed in return for 1,500 militants.

Under the Homs deal, which revived hope for seeing an end to the bloody conflict in their country, the militants pledged to open ways for transferring food and supplies to several towns they have been keeping under siege.

The same is expected to be included in the new deal for several other areas, according to Eisa.

Nubbul and al-Zahra, in Aleppo, have been under a strict deadly siege imposed by militant groups for more than a year. Opening safe routs for taking humanitarian supplies to these two towns was part of the Homs deal.

Syria sank into war in March 2011 when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.


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