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The Lebanon-Syria border crossing at Jdaidet Yabouss was overflowing with media late Sunday to cover the swap, which finally came to fruition thanks to mediation by Qatari officials, and a ransom that was reportedly paid to the rebels.The 13 nuns and their three female helpers had been held since early December by militants from the Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda-linked group that has been prominent in the monthslong campaign by the regime to take the Qalamoun region, north of Damascus.The nuns were seized from their convent in Maaloula and taken to the nearby town of Yabroud, which they were then forced to leave in recent weeks when the regime offensive in the area heated up.But the swap that led to their release contained a one-two-three punch to the gut of many regime supporters. Over a year ago, 48 Iranian nationals were handed over by the rebels in exchange for hundreds of Syrian detainees held by the authorities, many of whom were rounded up for suspected anti-government activity.
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