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By Tom Perry and Laila Bassam BEIRUT (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's Syrian wing freed 16 Lebanese soldiers and policemen on Tuesday in exchange for the release of jailed Islamists including the ex-wife of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Nusra Front seized the Lebanese 16 months ago during an attack on the Lebanese border town of Arsal mounted together with the Islamic State jihadist group which is still believed to be holding nine soldiers captured in the incursion. The exchange, brokered by Qatar, cast new light on the Gulf state's channels to the Nusra Front, a powerful player in the Syrian civil war that has been designated a terrorist group by the United Nations and United States.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on Tuesday for the opening of communication channels between Turkey and Russia to prevent incidents like the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkish jets along the Syrian border last week. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan did not meet at Monday's summit in Paris which Erdogan had described as an opportunity to mend shattered ties between the two countries. "Our call to Russia again is to open military communication channels to prevent similar incidents happening.