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Originally published March 10, 2014 at 6:05 AM | Page modified March 11, 2014 at 3:26 AM

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Syria says it freed 25 in exchange for nuns

The Syrian government says it freed only 25 prisoners in exchange for 13 Greek Orthodox nuns who had been held by al-Qaida-linked rebels -- and not 150 as was reported earlier.


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DAMASCUS, Syria —

The Syrian government says it freed only 25 prisoners in exchange for 13 Greek Orthodox nuns who had been held by al-Qaida-linked rebels -- and not 150 as was reported earlier.

Qatari and Lebanese officials, who were mediating between Damascus and the rebels holding the nuns had said 150 women prisoners were released.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi insists only 25 prisoners were freed as part of the deal. He spoke on Tuesday on state TV and did not say if the 25 were women.

His remarks were a rare acknowledgement by President Bashar Assad's government on its actions surrounding the internationally-brokered exchange.

Damascus typically does not comment on releases in exchange for people held by rebels.

The nuns were abducted by al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front rebel group in December.



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