Hezbollah member, jihadist freed in Syria prisoner swap

AFP , Tuesday 25 Nov 2014

Lebanon's militant Hezbollah movement said one of its members captured by Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate was released on Tuesday in exchange for two jihadists held by the Shiite group.

"Prisoner Emad Ayyad has been freed, in exchange for two members of Al-Nusra Front who were being held by Hezbollah, after weeks of negotiations," the group's television channel reported.

Hezbollah confirmed the swap in a later statement without mentioning Al-Nusra.

It said Ayyad was exchanged for two "armed men", without specifying where or when he had been captured.

Hezbollah is allied to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, and it has sent thousands of fighters to support the Syrian army's bid to quell a nearly four-year revolt across the country.

In recent months, Hezbollah has played a key role in fighting around Damascus, especially in the Qalamoun region that borders Lebanon.

The prisoner swap comes as Qatari-mediated talks try to secure the release of 27 Lebanese soldiers held hostage by Al-Nusra and the Islamic State jihadist group since August after a fierce battle for the border town of Arsal.

Three other troops being held by Al-Nusra and the IS have already been executed.

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