Syria to swap prisoners for rebel-held Iranians- Turkish agency

ISTANBUL Wed Jan 9, 2013 2:48am EST

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ISTANBUL Jan 9 (Reuters) - The Syrian government will set free 2,130 civilian prisoners on Wednesday in exchange for the release of 48 Iranians held by Syrian rebels, Turkey's state-run Anatolian news agency reported.

Citing the head of a Turkish humanitarian agency who was in Damascus to help coordinate the deal, Anatolian said Turkish citizens were among those to be released on Wednesday morning.

The deal was brokered by Turkey and Qatar.

The Syrian rebel al-Baraa brigade seized the Iranians in early August and had initially threatened to kill them.

The rebels say the captives are members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards sent to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces crush their revolt.

Tehran, one of Assad's closest allies, has said they were pilgrims visiting Shi'ite Muslim shrines.

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