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Bashar Assad

Syria's al-Qaida branch releases captive Lebanese soldiers

Al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria released more than a dozen Lebanese soldiers and police it has held for more than a year on Tuesday as part of a Qatar-brokered deal in which Lebanon freed at least 11 prisoners, including a former wife of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The release caps Lebanon's lengthy ordeal over the fate of its soldiers while also providing the al-Qaida branch, known as the Nusra Front, with new leverage as a group that can be negotiated with.

"My happiness is beyond description," said a Lebanese policeman, one of the 16 released on Tuesday, shortly after he was brought to the point where the exchange took place in the eastern town of...