Syria frees 10 women prisoners as part of three-way hostage swap

Syrian authorities have released10 women jailed for helping the opposition, the first batch of126 women expected to be freed in the final stages of athree-way hostage swap, activists said on Wednesday,

The women's release was the main demand of kidnappers innorthern Syria who had held nine Lebanese men hostage for 17months. Those hostages and two Turkish pilots abducted inLebanon were freed last week under a deal negotiated by Qatar.

"They (the 10 women) were released overnight. We do not knowif more will be released today or later, or if that is it. Weare waiting," said a Syrian human rights activist.

Syria has made no official comment about the release, norhas it acknowledged having any role in a hostage exchange deal.