NUR-SULTAN, July 8./TASS/. Russia expects that work on prisoner swaps in Syria will continue effectively, Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev told a news conference after the 16th international meeting on Syria in the Astana format on Thursday.
"We deem the exchange of detained persons, prisoners, and the search for the missing as a very important issue, though some are looking at this through a different lens. We believe that this is a key issue, with international organizations also joining it," the envoy said. "This work will be continued, and we expect that we will continue work to facilitate the release of the persons who their families are waiting for," Lavrentyev stressed.
He also praised the enormous work done by the working group on prisoner and refugee release, exchange of the bodies of those killed, and the search for the missing in Syria, that functions within the framework of the Astana process. "It seems to some that the swap we have seen recently — five for five — means nothing, this is few. But we must all realize that the prisoner swap is a very painstaking, difficult, and very delicate process, with human lives at stake," Lavrentyev emphasized.
On July 2, Russia and Turkey exchanged, with Syria’s assistance, five Syrian soldiers for five members of illegal armed groups, the Russian defense ministry reported earlier.
"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.