ALEPPO /Syria/, July 2. /TASS/. Russia and Turkey have exchanged, with Syria’s assistance, five Syrian soldiers for five members of illegal armed groups, the Russian defense ministry said on Friday.
"A swap of five Syrian soldiers kept by the armed opposition units for five members of illegal armed groups was conducted near the settlement of al-Bab in the Aleppo governorate on July 2," the ministry said, adding that the exchange was organized by Russia and Turkey with the participation of the Syrian government, representatives of the Russian and Turkish defense ministries. It was part of the activities of the working group on prisoner and refugee release, exchange of the bodies of those killed and the search for the missing in Syria.
The ministry noted that the group had been set up by the Astana format guarantor nations, namely Russia, Turkey, and Iran, after an international meeting on Syria in the Kazakh capital city of Astana (now Nur-Sultan) on December 22, 2017.
"Representatives of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross and chief of the Damascus office of United Nations Special Envoy [Geir] Pedersen were present during the exchange as observers," the ministry added.