BEIRUT (AP) -- The Syrian government has released 13 jailed women, a rights group said on Wednesday -- a move that is likely part of an ambitious regional prisoner exchange.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the women were released Tuesday morning from the headquarters of the Damascus provincial government, but said they had not been able to contact the women. The Observatory relies on a network of activists on ground for its information.
The women may have been released as part of a three-way exchange that began on Oct. 18. It saw Syrian rebels release nine Lebanese men held for a year and a half. Lebanese gunmen simultaneously released two Turkish pilots held since August.
Lebanese officials had said a number of imprisoned Syrian women were meant to be released to meet the demands of the Syrian rebels.
It's unclear how many women are held by Syria's government, nor how usual it is for 13 to be released simultaneously. Syrian government officials would not comment.
The deal underscored the extent of how far Syria's civil war, now in its third year, has spilled across the greater Middle East. It appeared to represent one of the more ambitious negotiated settlements to come out of the war, in which the rival factions remain largely opposed to any bartered peace.