Russia mediating Israeli-Syrian prisoner swap Russia mediating Israeli-Syrian prisoner swap
Russia is stepping in to make a deal between Israel and Syria for the release of a Syrian girl who accidentally crossed into Syria. Russia mediating Israeli-Syrian prisoner swap

(JERUSALEM, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Russia is mediating a deal for the release of an Israeli girl who accidentally crossed into Syria, in exchange for two Syrians held by Israel.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no immediate comment on the report by SANA news agency, which did not identify its sources. The Israel Prisons Service did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report came a day after Israel’s cabinet met in a special session to discuss what officials said was a humanitarian issue in which Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was involved.

SANA said that the two Syrians held by Israel were from the Golan Heights, part of which was captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East war.

The Israeli girl crossed into Syria by accident and was arrested by Syrian authorities in the area of Quneitra, in the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan, SANA said.

After SANA published its report, Israel’s Kan public radio said Russian mediation was still underway and a plane was carrying Israel’s national security adviser back from talks in Moscow. Kan did not provide details about the issues under negotiation, apart from citing the SANA report.

Over the past two years, Russia has helped secure the release of four Syrians held by Israel in exchange for the return of the body an Israeli soldier declared missing after a 1982 tank battle with Syrian forces in Lebanon.

Ali Irfan