The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Nation & World

October 23, 2013

Syria releases 13 women detainees

BEIRUT — The Syrian government released 13 female detainees, an official and an activist group said Wednesday, in a move that appeared to be part of an ambitious regional prisoner exchange.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the women walked out of the headquarters of the Damascus provincial government Tuesday morning, but hasn't been able to contact them. A Syrian government official confirmed the women's release, but declined to provide further details. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to brief the media.

It was not immediately clear whether the women released were part of a complicated hostage swap last week brokered by Qatar and the Palestinian Authority that saw Syrian rebels release nine Lebanese Shiite Muslims, while Lebanese gunmen simultaneously freed two Turkish pilots.

Lebanese officials have said a third part of the deal called for the Syrian government to free a number of women detainees to meet the rebels' demands.

The agreement illustrated how far Syria's civil war, now in its third year, has spilled across the greater Middle East. It also 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.

Syria's crisis began in March 2011 with largely peaceful protests against President Bashar Assad, and slowly turned into an insurgency and then a full-blown civil war. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the conflict, while another 2 million have sought refuge from the violence abroad.

On Wednesday, rebels and government forces clashed for the third consecutive day in the Christian town of Sadad north of Damascus, forcing desperate residents to flee.

The Observatory said fighters from the two al-Qaida-linked groups, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, captured a checkpoint that gave them control of the western part of the town. It said frightened residents were heading north to the central city of Homs some 55 kilometers (35 miles) away.

The rebels appear to have targeted Sadad because of its strategic location near the main highway north from Damascus rather than because it is inhabited primarily by Christians. But Islamic extremists among the rebels are hostile to Syria's Christians minority, which has largely backed Assad during the conflict. Other al-Qaida-linked fighters have damaged and desecrated churches in areas they have overrun.

In The Hague, the organization tasked with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons program said its inspectors have visited 18 out of 23 sites declared by the government. The group said it expected to meet a Nov. 1 deadline to make all of the declared chemical weapons production facilities in the country inoperable.

Three teams of inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had carried out "functional destruction activities" at almost all the sites, spokesman Michael Luhan said. The teams of inspectors have had "good access" to sites so far, and the Syrian government was cooperating, he said.

The OPCW is racing to meet the mid-2014 deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for ridding Syria of its chemical weapons. It is the tightest deadline in the organization's history, and the job is made all the more difficult by having to navigate a bloody civil war.

 

1
Text Only
Nation & World
  • news_bostonofficerslain.jpg MIT honors officer slain after Boston Marathon bombings

    Like many other youngsters, Sean Collier wanted to be a police officer. Unlike most, he brought that dream to life — and then died doing it, becoming a central character in the gripping hunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_eyewitness.jpg Eyewitness testimony no longer a gold standard

    The American legal system offers few moments as dramatic as an eyewitness to a crime pointing his finger across a crowded courtroom at a defendant. The problem is that decades of studies show eyewitness testimony is right only about half the time.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA - HB0121 - flu - 05 Second wave of milder flu hitting Northeast

    Months ago, the flu season seemed to be winding down. But health officials on Friday reported widespread flu-like illnesses in six states.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS - HB0525 - marijuana - JM -pic (4).jpg Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_skoreaferry.jpg Ferry captain arrested in South Korea disaster

    A prosecutor says the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clinton visit.jpg Documents: Clinton sought GOP support for health care

    Thousands of pages of documents from President Bill Clinton's White House affirm a longtime adage: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Student struggles to recount fatal truck-bus crash

    Most of the 911 calls from witnesses to last week's fiery truck-bus collision that killed 10 were matter of fact. Then there was the one from a passenger: With shrieks in the background, the student struggled to recount how a truck came roaring toward them.

    April 18, 2014

  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

     A powerful, magnitude-7.5 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday. The U.S. Geological Survey said it was centered northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

    April 18, 2014

  • Avalanche sweeps down Everest, killing at least 12

    An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

    April 18, 2014

  • news_horselesscarriage.jpg Proposed car to replace NYC horse carriages shown

    An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City was presented Thursday at the New York International Auto Show, as critics expressed their distaste for the idea.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium