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Syrian woman held by government then by rebels, freed

Yasmin Banchi, previously detained by Assad’s forces, was also accused by a rebel group of criminal offences

Published: Updated:

A Syrian woman who was released from a government jail last month, only to be detained by opposition forces, has been freed.

Yasmin Banchi spent 12 days in detention under Ahrar al-Sham, also known as the Islamic Movement of the Free Men of the Levant, charged with involvement in the killing of Syrian citizens.

During her trial, attended by Al Arabiya, Yasmin covered her blond hair with a scarf while awaiting the final verdict from the Islamist rebel judge.

When the chief judge pronounced her innocent, she hugged those friends who were present.

The judges later explained that Banchi had been arrested as a suspect in a criminal offense. It turned out that the allegation was baseless, however.

Yasmin, who was released from a government prison in an exchange for the Maaloula nuns, raised controversy among opposition ofrces when she was arrested by rebel forces at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing as she fled towards Turkey.

During her detention, Yasmin went on a hunger strike and abstained from drinking water for two days.

“They used to bring me food,” she said, then laughed, as she recalled her days in detention under the government. “If that happens in the government’s cells, and it did, they would have tortured a prisoner to death,” she said.

In recent days, pro-government media announced on social networking sites that Yasmin had died at the hands of “terrorist gangs that she had supported,” and distributed fabricated pictures purporting that Ahrar al-Sham had beheaded Yasmin.