Syria's main transport artery, the M5 highway, links Damascus with Aleppo. Image: iStock

Syria’s regime and the country’s insurgents swapped prisoners on Tuesday as part of a peace process brokered by Russia, Iran and Turkey, according to the Turkish authorities.

“Many people who had been detained by rebel groups and by the Syrian regime have been freed” in a reciprocal and simultaneous move, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said each side had released 20 prisoners, with 11 women among those freed by Damascus.

Russia, Iran and Turkey are working to achieve peace in Syria under what is known as the Astana process.

Each country plays a key role in the conflict, which has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions more since it started in March 2011.

Russia and Iran have intervened on the side of Syria’s regime, ensuring its survival, while Turkey supports insurgent groups in northern Syria to keep Syrian Kurds from establishing and expanding territory along its border.

All groups say they are fighting ISIS militants and other jihadists in the northern regions.

The Astana process has gradually come to eclipse a UN-sponsored negotiations framework known as the Geneva process. Participants, including the United States and European powers, would be key donors in an international post-conflict reconstruction programme for Syria.

Tuesday’s prisoner swap took place near the city of Al-Bab in northern Syria’s Aleppo province.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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