Syria Releases 61 Female Detainees in Swap, Observatory Says

Syria has freed 61 female prisoners, part of a swap that involved the release of nine Shiite Lebanese men abducted by Syrian rebels and two Turkish pilots snatched in Lebanon, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said today.

At least 67 more prisoners are expected to be released as part of the deal, Rami Abdurrahman, head of U.K.-based activist group, said an interview from Coventry, England.

The women’s release came after the nine Lebanese men were freed by their Syrian rebel captors on Oct. 19 after mediation by Qatar. The rebels said in August they would only free the men if the government of President Bashar al-Assad released 127 female prisoners.

A Lebanese Shiite group in Beirut abducted the two Turkish Airlines pilots, whose country has supported the rebels, on Aug. 9 as bargaining chips to try to secure the release of the nine men.

In another development, Tal Al-Mallohi, a 22-year-old activist and blogger, is expected to be freed today, Abdurrahman said. He said her release is not part of the prisoner swap.

Al-Mallohi has been held by Syria’s security services since December 2009, before the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, according to Human Rights Watch.

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