Last updated: 24 October, 2013

Syria frees 64 women detainees after hostage deal

Syria has freed 64 women prisoners this week, or half the number expected to be released under a weekend hostage deal, a human rights activist said Thursday.

Nine Lebanese Shiite hostages held for 17 months by a rebel group in northern Syria were exchanged on Saturday for two Turkish pilots abducted in Lebanon in August.

The release of 128 female detainees held in Syrian regime jails formed part of the deal brokered by Turkey, Qatar and Lebanon.

“Since Tuesday the Syrian authorities have released 64 of the 128 prisoners due to be freed as part of the agreement,” activist Sima Nassar told AFP.

“We have received assurances that the others will be released by the end of the week,” she added.

The latest batch was freed on Wednesday from the notorious Adra prison, northwest of the Syrian capital, and most of them hail from Damascus province, Nassar said.

“Syrian authorities have ordered some prisoners to leave Syrian territory while others were given a choice to stay or leave,” she added.

Among those released were a Lebanese, two Palestinians and a Syrian who had been imprisoned because her uncle is a dissident and her father a dissident lawyer, Nassar said.

Many others were humanitarian activists, and one is a cancer patient whose husband was killed in Syria’s 31-month conflict.

There has been no official comment from Damascus on the detainees.

Tens of thousands of people are being held by the Syrian regime, many of them without trial, activists say. Rights groups say torture and ill-treatment are systematic in Syria’s jails.