Syrian soldier after 3 years as Nusra prisoner: Iranians are priority

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A prisoner exchange in the Idlib countryside on Wednesday highlights the “discrimination” of the regime in negotiating for its own, according to one prisoner held for three years by Jabhat a-Nusra. “We saw great discrimination between Syrian captives on the one hand and the Lebanese and Iranian prisoners on the other,” one of the Syrian prisoners told Hadi al-Abdullah, a well-known opposition reporter covering Idlib, in a video covering the exchange. “If an Iranian is captured, his exchange is arranged for immediately,” the unnamed prisoner said. Four of the seven opposition prisoners released by Nusra were from the Alawite town of Ishtabraq. Their names were posted by a pro-regime community Facebook page from the town. Regime soldiers who were held prisoner by rebels in Al-Hasakah expressed similar views in a video circulated by opposition news sources in January, warning Syrian Alawites that the regime would not negotiate for their exchange. The exchange comes in the wake of protests on Monday and Tuesday calling on the regime to take action to save the residents of the rebel-encircled Shiite villages of al-Fuaa and Kafariya.