15 freed prisoners arrive in Damascus

Updated: 2011-10-19 09:11


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DAMASCUS - Fifteen exiled Palestinians, who were freed Tuesday from Israeli jails in a swap deal with the Palestinian Hamas movement, set foot in Damascus that has offered to host them on its territory.

They were greeted by representatives from Hamas and other Palestinian factions in addition to some Syrian officials at the Damascus international airport midnight Tuesday.

Maher Taher, an official in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the event that the resistance will continue to free all remaining prisoners from the Israeli jails.

Jamal Issa, representative of Hamas in Syria, told Xinhua that Hamas will work to free the rest of the prisoners who are languishing in the Israeli prisons, stressing that the prisoners who have arrived in Damascus will stay temporarily in Syria.

Israel on Tuesday morning released the first batch of Arab and Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held captive by the Islamic Hamas movement since June 2006.

Under a swap deal between Hamas and Israel mediated by Egypt, the Jewish state has committed last week to release some 1,027 prisoners, 27 of them are women.

A total of 477 prisoners were released in the first phase of the swap, while the remaining 550 Palestinian prisoners included in the deal are due to be released in the coming two months.

A smaller number of Israeli Arab prisoners returned to their homes in east Jerusalem on Tuesday.

As part of the deal, 40 of the released prisoners were deported to their exile. Qatar and Syria will host 30 prisoners and Turkey will host 10.