The Bashar Assad regime and opposition groups have swapped detainees in northern Syria for the third time in line with the Astana process, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Monday.
The exchange is the third to date as part of a pilot project prepared by a working group formed under the Astana process by Turkey, Russia, Iran and the United Nations to investigate the fate of missing people and release those who have been detained, the ministry said.
Several persons were "mutually and simultaneously" released on April 22, 2019 in the Abu al Zindeen district in the south of al-Bab which is controlled by the opposition, it added.
It did not specify how many people were involved in the swap, but said the working group will continue its activities in the coming period.
Meanwhile, Anadolu Agency reporters on the ground said nine prisoners were swapped from each side.
The swap comes in the runup to the 12th international high-level meeting on Syria as part of the Astana process, set for April 25-26.
The first prisoner swap was carried out last November, and the second was in February.
Hundreds of thousands of people are still thought to be languishing inside Syrian regime prisons.
The first meeting of the Astana process was held in Turkey in January 2017 to bring all warring parties in the Syrian conflict to the table to facilitate U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva. The Astana talks support the establishment of the U.N.-backed constitutional committee in Syria as a way to find a political solution. The 12th Astana talks will be held in the Kazakh capital of Nursultan on April 25-26.
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