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Geopolitics

Syrian Army Agrees To First Release Of Opposition Prisoners

AL ARABIYA (Dubai)

In the first such step of its kind, the Syrian Army has agreed to a prisoner exchange with the opposition forces of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Syrian government forces freed two arrested men from Syrian prisons in exchange for the remnants of a destroyed tank in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in northwest Syria.

An Al-Arabia video report shows the exchange, which took place in the presence of UN monitors, with footage of a charred tank at 0:55 seconds into the clip being transferred onto a Syrian Army flatbed truck. One of the presumed prisoners looks pale and shaken.

The exchange is significant for the Free Syrian Army, said reporter Rashid al-Eid. "It seems clear that the Syrian regime now recognizes the existence of the Free Syrian Army, even if implicitly."

The transfer and the acknowledgement of the FSA's role, coupled with the negotiations for the prisoners' release signals a new course in the field of operations on the Syrian scene, al-Eid reported. "It is interesting to note that the tank cannot be repaired, but was returned to the Syrian Army after having been demolished by the FSA in an operation here," he said.

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