Syria frees 14 women detainees after hostage deal

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Syrian authorities have released 14 women detainees as part of a weekend hostage exchange but dozens of others are still being held, a prominent human rights activist said Wednesday.

Nine Lebanese Shiite hostages held for 17 months by a rebel group in northern Syria were exchanged on Saturday for two Turkish pilots held in Lebanon since August.

The release of scores of female detainees held in regime jails formed part of the deal brokered by Turkey, Qatar and Lebanon.

“Fourteen of the women whose names were on the list” were freed late Tuesday, activist Sema Nassar told AFP. “For their own safety, they will have to leave the country.”

Among them was a cancer patient who had been imprisoned twice before and whose husband has been killed in Syria's 31-month-old conflict, said Nassar.

“Another 128 women whose names were on the list have yet to be set free,” she said.

There has been no official comment in Damascus on the women detainees.

Tens of thousands of people are being detained by the Syrian regime, many of them without trial, activists say. Rights groups say torture and ill-treatment are systematic in Syria's jails.

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