A major prisoner swap between the Syrian regime and Syrian rebels resulted in the release of 48 Iranians in central Damascus, according to Reuters . The Syrian government had promised to release more than 2,000 civilian prisoners, though the prisoners' whereabouts are still not known.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom noted it was hosting a private meeting of the rebel Syrian National Coalition in the hopes of supporting what will eventually be a "stable and democratic country," according to a press release from the Foreign Office .
Following is a closer look at the latest events in the Syrian civil war.
Iranians freed in exchange for civilians
The Iranians were captured by the Syrian rebel al-Baraa brigade in August and released at a Damascus hotel. Iran has supported the Syrian government in its fight against the rebels, who are backed by Turkey, Gulf Arab states and several European allies.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, during a Wednesday press briefing, emphasized the involvement of Iranian foreign fighters in the conflict, saying that "most of the Iranians who had been captive -- held captive are members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, just another example of how Iran continues to provide guidance, expertise, personnel, technical capabilities to the Syrian regime."
She further went on to note that the regime failed to secure Syrian citizens fighting for the regime and said that there was no new information regarding Americans held by the Syrian government.
British host private meeting of SNC
Foreign Secretary William Hague attended the fourth Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, in December, and later held a private meeting between the SNC, international partners, and experts on Wednesday and Thursday.
"With the escalating violence and suffering Syria has endured over the past 22 months, the international community has an important responsibility to ensure it is ready to help a future Syrian government achieve political transition and stability quickly," the Foreign Office spokesperson said, according to the press release.
Envoy criticizes President Assad
The SNC was pleased to hear comments from Lakhdar Brahimi, the international peace envoy in Syria, in which he said that the Assad family's rule was "too long," according to a separate report from Reuters .
Brahimi's comments were made following President Bashar al-Assad's Sunday speech which the envoy called a "lost opportunity," arguing that the president's initiatives were "sectarian and one-sided."
Shawn Humphrey is a former contributor to The Flint Journal and an amateur Africanist, focusing his personal studies on human rights and political issues on the continent.
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