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Syria swaps over 2,000 prisoners for Iranians held by rebels, Turkish NGO says

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The Damascus-based al-Watan newspaper said the arrests at the Koers military base, 24 km (15 miles) east of Aleppo city, proved "scandalous Turkish involvement" in Syria's crisis.

State-run media did not mention the reported incident.

TURKEY, QATAR INTERVENE

The al-Baraa brigade, part of the umbrella rebel organisation, the Free Syrian Army, said in October it would start killing the Iranians unless Assad freed Syrian opposition detainees and stopped shelling civilian areas.

But Qatar, following a request from Iran, urged the rebels not to carry out the threat.

Insurgents fighting to topple Assad accuse Iran of sending fighters from the Revolutionary Guards to help his forces crush the revolt, a charge the Islamic Republic denies.

The rebels now control wide areas of northern and eastern Syria, most of its border crossings with Turkey and a crescent of suburbs around the capital Damascus. But Assad's government is still firmly entrenched in the capital and controls most of the densely populated southwest, the Mediterranean coast and the main north-south highway.

The IHH has been involved in previous negotiations in recent months to release prisoners, including two Turkish journalists and Syrian citizens, held in Syria.

The humanitarian group came to prominence in May 2010 when Israeli marines stormed its Mavi Marmara aid ship to enforce a naval blockade of the Palestinian-run Gaza Strip and killed nine Turks in clashes with activists on board.

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