Syrian rebels release 9 Lebanese hostages
Qatar says it mediated the release of the 9 Lebanese captives, whom Syrian rebels abducted last year on a pilgrimage to Shiite shrines in Syria. DEBKAfile: This episode is the first outward sign of secret direct contacts some Syrian rebel groups are conducting with the Assad regime in Damascus and Lebanese Hizballah in certain war sectors. Those contacts have produced some local ceasefire deals.
The nine hostages, held by the rebel Northern Storm Brigade against the release of 282 women detainees in Syrian prisons, were on their way to Turkey Saturday morning and should be in Lebanon within the coming hours.