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Syrian regime meets rebel demand and frees some women prisoners, say activists, officials

Lebanese officials and Syrian activists say authorities in Damascus have given in to a rebel demand and released several women prisoners.

The release is expected to set the stage for the freeing of several Lebanese Shiite pilgrims held by Syrian rebels since May 2012.

Lebanese security officials say the Syrian women were released on Thursday. The officials spoke on Friday on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 women were released. There was no confirmation from Damascus. It was unclear when or why the women were detained.

Lebanese officials have been shuttling between Syria and Turkey to try to mediate the pilgrims' release.

In January, rebels freed 48 Iranians in exchange for more than 2,000 prisoners held by Syrian authorities.