NewsIsrael and Syria swap prisoners in Russia-mediated deal

Israel and Syria swap prisoners in Russia-mediated deal


Jerusalem: Two Syrian shepherds were exchanged for an Israeli woman under a prisoner exchange deal on Thursday between the Jewish state and Syria mediated by Russia.

Israel’s military said the two had been arrested “a few weeks” ago after they crossed the contested border in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The army “returned (the) two shepherds to (the International Committee of the) Red Cross representatives through the Quneitra Crossing, in accordance with an Israeli Government directive,” it said in a statement.

The military gave no further details on the identity of the men, but Damascus’ SANA news agency confirmed the swap, identifying the Syrian prisoners as Mohamed Hussein and Tarek al-Obeidan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later confirmed the exchange was mediated by Russia, which enjoys close ties with the Syrian government and stations soldiers in the country.

Thanking Russian leader Vladimir Putin after the deal, the Israeli PM said he had asked his “friend” to help “and he acted.”

Netanyahu said the young Israeli woman — who had strayed over the border — was on her way home, and that his country had freed the two shepherds as a gesture of goodwill.

As part of the agreement, he said, a Syrian activist called Nihal al-Mokt currently serving community service would have her sentence shortened by three months.

Earlier, SANA had said the two shepherds were released following a deal conducted through “Russian mediation”, which also allowed the release of al-Mokt.

Netanyahu on Tuesday evening had held an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the “humanitarian” situation in Syria.

Asked to comment Wednesday shortly after SANA reported on the prisoner swap, he called it “a matter of life or death”.

“I am using my personal contacts with President (Vladimir) Putin to resolve the problem,” Netanyahu told an Israeli military radio station.

Israel seized much of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community.

The countries remain technically at war.

Israel routinely carries out airstrikes in Syria, mostly against targets linked to Iran, in what it says is a bid to prevent its arch-foe from consolidating a foothold on its northern border.

This story has been updated throughout.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest news

Ants spotted completely ‘healing’ wounded trees in 24 hrs!

When drilled holes into Cecropia trees, tiny ants colonizing its trunks emerged like fairy Godmothers to heal the wounded...

Six Major Climate Developments to What Out For in 2022

This story originally appeared in The Revelator and is being published here as a part of Covering Climate Now, a global...

Climate Crisis Wouldn’t Defuse Until Democracy Emergency Isn’t Dealt With

This story originally appeared in The Guardian and is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of...

After Omicron, New Covid Variant with More Mutations found in France

Kolkata, India: As the world continues to struggle with the rapid spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus...

Biden Warns of Rising COVID-19 Cases

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden warned Tuesday there's "going to be a continued rise in cases" and that the...

Swiss unanimously votes for same-sex union referendum

GENEVA — In Switzerland, a controversial same-sex marriage referendum has been resoundingly approved by voters of the conservative, rich Alpine...

Must read

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you