An Israeli negotiating team departed for Russia Thursday night, and is expected to bring back an Israeli woman who was taken captive by Syria recently.
The team, led by chief negotiator Yaron Bloom, left for Russia Thursday night, after the Israeli military on Thursday handed over two Syrian shepherds to the Red Crescent at the Kuneitra crossing point on the Israel-Syrian frontier in the Golan Heights.
The two shepherds were taken into custody by Israeli security forces several weeks ago, after the shepherds illegally crossed the border into Israeli territory.
The IDF returned the two shepherds to Syria Thursday as part of a deal aimed at securing the release of an Israeli national who strayed into Syria and was taken captive by the Syrian military.
The two shepherds were included in the deal in place of two jailed Syrians held by Israel, after they refused to return to Syria. Instead, Israel offered to return to Syria the two shepherds, with Syria ultimately agreeing to the arrangement.
Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that a major breakthrough had been achieved in talks between Israel and Syria for the Israeli woman’s return.
The captive set to be returned to Israel from Syria via Russia has been identified as a 22-year-old former haredi woman from the city of Modi’in Illit, who accidently crossed the frontier from Israel into Syria in the Golan Heights recently.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the deal was being held up by the two Syrian prisoners, who were said to be refusing to return to Syria.
The two Syrian prisoners originally included in the deal are Nihal al-Maqt and Dhiab Qahmuz. Al-Maqt was convicted of incitement in 2017. She told Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV that she has been released from house arrest and that she is "now free in my homeland.”
Al-Maqt said that soldiers came to her house to inform her of the negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus to secure her release and told her that she would be freed from house arrest if she relocated to Syria. However, she asked to be allowed to remain in the Golan Heights, a request which she says was granted.