Iraqi officials: 26 hostages, including Qatari royals, free

After nearly a year and a half in captivity, 26 hostages, including members of Qatar’s ruling family, were released on Friday, Iraqi officials said, in what had become possibly the region’s most complex and sensitive hostage negotiations in recent years.

Several people with knowledge of the talks and a person involved in the negotiations said the hostage deal was linked to one of the largest population transfers in Syria’s six-year-long civil war, and was delayed for several days due to an explosion one week ago that killed at least 130 people, most of them children and government supporters, waiting to be transferred.

The transfer of thousands of Syrian civilians was also tied to another deal involving 750 political prisoners to be released by the Syrian government.

The complexity of the talks highlights Qatar’s role as an experienced and shrewd facilitator in hostage negotiations — this time involving members of the Gulf Arab state’s ruling family.

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