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Thirteen nuns were freed late Sunday by Syrian rebels in exchange for the release by Damascus of more than 150 Syrian women prisoners following Lebanese and Qatari mediation, officials said, putting an end to an ordeal that lasted more than three months and won world sympathy.Upon her arrival at the Jdaidet Yabouss crossing after a journey that took nine hours, Mother Therese, one of the released nuns, thanked God and all those who negotiated their release for their safety before embracing Ibrahim.One of the nuns was being carried by security personnel as she seemed too weak to walk on her own. Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Atiyeh said the Qatari mediation succeeded in securing the freedom of the 13 Greek Orthodox nuns and their three helpers in exchange for the release of 153 Syrian women held in regime prisons.Ibrahim, who had been mediating with Syrian and Qatari officials to secure the nuns' release, said the kidnappers tried at the last minute to scuttle the deal to free the nuns in a bid to achieve more gains. The release of the nuns followed a rare meeting between two senior Qatari and Syrian officials despite strained relations between the two countries damaged by the 3-year-old war in Syria, reports said.
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