On May 16, Syrian authorities and al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) swapped prisoners near the town of Darat Izza in the western Aleppo countryside.
Under the deal, HTS handed over the body of unidentified Syrian Arab Army (SAA) service member and released:
- Col. Abdul Karim Yusef Suleiman, captured during the battle of Kafr Nabudah in northern Hama in 2019;
- PVT Abdul Hadi Suleiman al-Deeb, abducted from al-Salamiyah road in eastern Hama in 2014.
From their side, Syrian authorities release the following militants:
- Basil Muhammad Akoush of HTS, captured in Kafr Nabudah in 2019;
- Muhammad Abdul-Sattar Shaaban of HTS, captured in Kafr Rouma in 2019;
- Ahmad Nawwaf Al-Muhammad of HTS, captured in Kafr Nabudah in 2019;
- Mustafa al-Najjar, of the Ahrar al-Sham Movement, captured in Kafr Rouma in 2019.
This was the first prisoner swap deal this year. The last deal between Syrian authorities and HTS was held in May 17 of last year. Several service members and civilians, including women and children, were freed from the terrorist group.
Additional prisoners exchange deals will likely take place in the upcoming few months as long as the March 5 Russian-Turkish agreement on Greater Idlib is still in force.