Israel to free two prisoners after recovering soldier's remains from Syria

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel will release two prisoners after the remains of an Israeli soldier missing since 1982 were recovered by Russian special forces in Syria, Israeli and Syrian officials said. Russia, a key Damascus ally, this month handed over the remains and personal effects of Zachary Baumel who was 21 when he was declared missing in action along with two other soldiers in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub during Israel's invasion of Lebanon. A Syrian government source told Reuters that two or more Syrians would be freed from Israeli prisons after Russian mediation.

Reuters April 28, 2019 00:05:59 IST
Israel to free two prisoners after recovering soldier's remains from Syria

Israel to free two prisoners after recovering soldiers remains from Syria

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel will release two prisoners after the remains of an Israeli soldier missing since 1982 were recovered by Russian special forces in Syria, Israeli and Syrian officials said.

Russia, a key Damascus ally, this month handed over the remains and personal effects of Zachary Baumel who was 21 when he was declared missing in action along with two other soldiers in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub during Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

A Syrian government source told Reuters that two or more Syrians would be freed from Israeli prisons after Russian mediation.

The source said authorities had pressured Moscow to secure the prisoners' release after the news of the Israeli soldier's remains were being handed over.

Both sides appeared to step away from any suggestion that the release was part of a negotiated swap between the two enemy states Israel and Syria.

"Israel decided in the past few days to release two prisoners as a goodwill gesture, only after the return of Zachary Baumel's remains," the Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Saturday.

There was no immediate comment from Russian authorities.

Israel's Prison Service identified the two prisoners as Ahmed Khamis and Zidan Taweel.

It said Khamis, from Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, was a member of the Palestinian Fatah group and was jailed in 2005 after he tried to infiltrate an Israeli military base in order to carry out an attack against soldiers.

Taweel, from the Syrian Druze village of Hader, was jailed in 2008 for drug smuggling, the Prisons Service said. A spokesman for the service said it was not yet clear when they would be released.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; Additional reporting by Kinda Makieh in Damascus; Editing by Alexander Smith and Ros Russell)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.