Syrian rebels free one of Lebanese hostages

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BEIRUT -- Turkey on Saturday secured the release of one of 11 Shia Lebanese hostages held for three months by Syrian rebels, a move that underlined Ankara's growing influence in the Arab world.

In Syria itself, activists reported the discovery of up to 50 bodies in a Damascus suburb stormed by government forces after heavy clashes this week.

Hussein Ali Omar, 60, crossed into Turkey after his release and later arrived in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, aboard a private Turkish jet.

"Our treatment [by the Syrian captors] was excellent and the Lebanese [hostages] are well," Omar said.

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He was dressed in a white shirt and a red tie bearing an image of the Turkish flag that he said he was wearing "in recognition of Turkey's efforts to free me."

In Syria, activists reported clashes between rebels and government troops as well as shelling in different areas. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said between 40 and 50 bodies were discovered Saturday in Daraya. It did not say whether the bodies belonged to civilians or rebel fighters.

The 11 Lebanese Shias were abducted May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon. A previously unknown group called Syrian Rebels in Aleppo claimed responsibility. Turkey's Foreign Ministry said SaturdayAnkara would continue to try to free the rest of the hostages.

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