Syrian Rebels Free 48 Iranians

    In this Sunday Jan. 6, 2013 photo Syrian rebel fighters take their positions in foxholes on the frontline of the ongoing battle for the military airport in Taftanaz, Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad, in a rare speech Sunday, outlined his own vision for ending the country's conflict with a plan that would keep him in power. He also dismissed any chance of dialogue with the armed opposition and called on Syrians to fight what he called "murderous criminals."  (AP Photo/Mustafa Karali)

    Syria rebels on frontline in Taftanaz. (Mustafa Karali/AP)

    Syrian rebels will free 48 Iranian hostages in exchange for 2,130 prisoners held by the Syrian government, a Turkish charity reported Wednesday. Iranian state TV confirmed the release but did not comment on the swap. The Free Syrian Army, the country’s main rebel group, claimed the hostages had been carrying out a mission for the government, an ally of Iran. Iranian authorities admitted some of the hostages had been retired members of the armed forces but insisted they were visiting a shrine in Damascus. The Turkish state news agency said the deal was brokered by Turkey and Qatar, both of which have backed the rebels. 

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