Assad Regime & Opposition Release Syrian Detainees
The Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and opposition groups have “mutually and simultaneously” released detainees as part of the Astana Process on Thursday 16, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. They have exchanged 5 prisoners from each side through Turkish-Russian mediation, according to al-Souria Net.
According to al-Souria Net’s sources: “The exchange took place at the Abu al-Zandin crossing, which separates regime-controlled areas from opposition groups in the city of al-Bab, northeast of Aleppo.”
In the exchange, Russian forces appeared as representatives of the regime’s authority, and Turkish forces appeared for the other side (opposition authority).
The Working Group on the Release of Detainees/Abductees, Handover of Bodies and Identification of Missing Persons was established as part of the Astana process with the participation of Turkey, Russia, Iran, and the UN and will continue its activities in the coming period.
Astana Peace Process
The Astana peace process to end the conflict was launched in January 2017 at the initiative of Turkey, Russia, and Iran and with the support of First Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The Kazakh capital hosted the first round of talks to find a political solution to the crisis.
Back in July 2021, participants of the 16th round of talks of the Astana Process stated their unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and expressed their conviction that there is no military solution to the war, the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs described.
Iran, Russia, and Turkey reaffirmed their determination to oppose separatist plans aimed at undermining the unity of Syria and threatening the national security of neighboring countries.
All participants expressed concern about the intensification of hostilities against the civilian population and stressed the need to maintain peace on the ground via full implementation of existing agreements on the Idlib de-escalation zone. Topics of serious concern also were the humanitarian situation and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which worsens the Syrian healthcare system and the socio-economic situation.
A call was made on the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies to increase assistance to Syria, including basic infrastructures such as water and electricity, schools, and hospitals. The 17th round of talks should be held in the following weeks, although the date is not confirmed.