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US News Israel and Syria exchange prisoners thanks to Russian mediation

13:53  19 february  2021
13:53  19 february  2021 Source:   france24.com

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The Israeli and Syrian authorities announced Thursday evening that they had exchanged prisoners, two Syrian shepherds against an Israeli national, through mediation from Moscow.

Two Syrian nationals against a young Israeli woman: the Hebrew State and Syria announced, Thursday, February 18, a new complex prisoner exchange between the two technically warring countries through mediation by Russia .

Initially, the Israeli army said it had handed over to Syria two "shepherds" who had been arrested "a few weeks ago" after crossing the disputed border in the part of the Syrian Golan Heights occupied by Israel .

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"In accordance with the directives of the Israeli government, the army returned two shepherds to Syrian territory", she indicated, specifying that the two men had been handed over to the International Red Cross (ICRC) in Qouneïtra, in Syria.

The two men had been arrested "in recent weeks" after "crossing the Alpha Line", the de facto border between Syria and Israel on the annexed part of the Golan.

Syria then confirmed the release of these two Syrian prisoners and identified them as Mohamed Hussein and Tarek Al-Obeidan.

Their release comes following "the exchange which began the day before with Russian mediation" and which, according to the official Syrian news agency Sana, allowed the release of a Syrian activist, Nihal al-Mokt, on Wednesday against a young Israeli who would have entered "by mistake" on Syrian soil.

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"A few days ago, a young Israeli woman crossed the border into Syria. I spoke twice with my friend, Russian President Vladimir Putin. I asked her for her help in facilitating the return of the young woman. and he acted ", declared on the night of Thursday to Friday the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who" thanked "the Russian head of state.

The Syrian activist soon "forgiven"

The young woman is "currently on her way to Israel," said Benjamin Netanyahu, indicating that as a "gesture of good will", Israel had freed the two shepherds on its side and will grant a "pardon" to the activist Nihal al-Mokt who, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), is in her residence in Majdal Chams.

This small Druze town is located in the portion of the Syrian Golan Heights conquered by Israel in 1967 and then annexed. And even today, a large part of the local population of Majdal Chams considers themselves Syrian, not Israeli.

In January 2020, the Israeli authorities freed two Druze prisoners from the Golan, one of whom had been convicted of spying for the benefit of neighboring Syria, as part of an exchange also facilitated by Russia, which maintains relations with the two enemy countries.

Israel and Syria, which are still technically at war, are separated by a de facto border at the Golan Heights, which the Jewish state has partly occupied since the end of the Six-Day War in 1967.

Au In recent years, the Israeli army has also stepped up strikes against elements deemed favorable to Iran, its great enemy, on Syrian soil.

With AFP

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This is interesting!