Syrian rebels free 48 Iranians in prisoner swap -Turkish NGO

ISTANBUL Wed Jan 9, 2013 5:55am EST

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ISTANBUL Jan 9 (Reuters) - Syrian rebels freed 48 Iranian hostages on Wednesday in exchange for the release of more than 2,000 civilian prisoners held by the Syrian government, the head of a Turkish aid agency which helped broker the deal said.

"The 48 Iranians have been released and are being taken to Damascus, accompanied by Iranian and Syrian officials," Bulent Yildirim, head of humanitarian aid agency IHH, told Reuters by telephone from Damascus, adding the release of the civilian prisoners had begun in return.

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