On August 31, the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups of Jaysh Ahrar al-Ashayer and Jaysh Usud al-Sharqiya released a Syrian pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Ali al-Helw and 30 Syrian soldiers.
Al-Helw’s warplane, a Mig-23BN, crashed in the northern Suwayda countryside on August 15. Jaysh Usud al-Sharqiya captured the pilot and claimed that it had downed the jet with a 12.7mm gun. However, sources from the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) said that the warplane was crashed due to a technical failure.
On August 19, Jaysh Ahrar al-Ashayer captured 30 Syrian soldiers after it had attacked several positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the northern Suwayda countryside. The Jaysh Ahrar al-Ashayer attack was launched from inside the Jordanian territory.
The both sides have not revealed any additional information about the deal so far.
The FSA groups demanded from the SAA to release the FSA founder, Hussien al-Harmoush, who was captured by the Syrian intelligence in 2011 in exchange for Ali- al-Helw. However, it was not announced that Harmoush was release, also it is highly doubtable that he is still alive in jail.
The deal was likely between the Syrian government and the US-led collation more than with the FSA. In the last few days, the US-led collation asked the FSA to evacuate rom the Damascus desert, and this deal could be a part of this.