• Hostages freed in Lebanon swap deal

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    BEIRUT: Nine Lebanese pilgrims held hostage in Syria for 17 months arrived in Beirut on Saturday after being freed in an exchange that also released two Turkish Airlines pilots seized in Lebanon.

    The Shiite pilgrims were greeted by cabinet ministers and other senior officials from across the political spectrum in Lebanon, where their seizure had sparked angry protests by family members.

    Turkish pilots Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca were met at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport Saturday night by their families and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The agreement freeing the Lebanese and the Turks also called for the release of 200 Syrians jailed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to sources close to the Turkish and Qatari mediation that led to the deal.

    It was not immediately clear if the Syrians had also been freed.

    AFP

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