A Lebanese soldier helps a released member of the security forces on December 1, 2015, in the village of Labweh in the Bekaa Valley. AFP PHOTO
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Sixteen Lebanese servicemen captured by Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front militants on the northeast border more than a year ago were freed Tuesday in exchange for Islamist prisoners, including the ex-wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi."We came back the same way we went in," one of the servicemen told an MTV reporter in Wadi Hmeid, where the swap took place.He was referring to the day the men were captured during an August 2014 battle in Arsal when Nusra and ISIS militants rounded up 37 Lebanese servicemen, packed them into pickup trucks and headed east of Arsal. The body of one of the killed captives, Mohammad Hamieh, was released earlier Tuesday, marking the beginning of the swap deal, negotiated by Qatari officials.The nine ISIS-held captives were not included in the swap deal, and are believed to still be held on Arsal's outskirts. The 16 freed servicemen left Wadi Hmeid about two hours later in three Lebanese Red Cross vehicles after several aid trucks and at least a dozen Islamist prisoners – including five women – arrived to the swap location. Hours earlier, Lebanon's General Security announced that it had received the body of Mohammad Hamieh, who was shot dead by Nusra militants in September 2014, about a month after his capture.
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