Fifty-four women and children were released by the two warring sides. Some of the women had been detained by the regime for years, separated from their children, for no other reason but to pressure their husbands into surrendering.

"To be honest, it breaks my heart to swap a Syrian for a Syrian, look how desperate our situation has become," Zaid Abu Zaid from the Public Institution for Prisoners said about the swap.
"To be honest, it breaks my heart to swap a Syrian for a Syrian, look how desperate our situation has become," Zaid Abu Zaid from the Public Institution for Prisoners said about the swap.

Over 100 women and children crossed war lines as prisoners were exchanged between the Syrian regime and opposition groups in western Hama city recently. It was one of the largest prisoner swaps between the warring parties in the six-year war.

Regime representatives and rebels last week exchanged 54 women and children who had been detained by either side for years, the British-based war monitor, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. On Thursday, Amnesty International said as many as 13,000 people were hanged in the first five years of the Syrian war at a notorious prison near Damascus as part of the regime's "policy of extermination."

Most of the hostages released by the opposition were from the coastal Latakia province, the heartland of Assad's minority Alawite sect. They had been detained for over three years by rebel forces.

Rasha is a mother of five who was one of the 54 people released by the regime. She was arrested in 2014 in an attempt to pressure her husband – a wanted man – to give himself up.

TRT World 's Kilmeny Duchardt brings us Rasha's story.

Syrian regime ready for more swaps

Syrian regime said on Monday it was ready swap prisoners in its jails for people "kidnapped" by the opposition groups, regime's television reported citing an official source.

The regime is "continuously ready" for such an exchange with rebel groups, "particularly in the framework of efforts being made for the coming meeting in Astana", a news flash on the regime-run TV said.

The Kazakh foreign ministry said on Saturday that Syrian regime and rebel delegations had been invited to attend meetings on the Syria crisis in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana on February 15-16.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies