Over the weekend Israel released two prisoners - a Fatah terrorist and a drug smuggler - sending them to Syria in return for the body of a long-missing IDF soldier Zachary Baumel, retrieved by Russia earlier this year.
The London-based paper reports that sources tell them the initial prisoner swap was just the first stage of a broader deal, which Israeli officials maintain never took place.
According to Asharq al-Awsat, two Syrian prisoners currently held in Israeli jails - Sidqi al-Maqt and Amal Abu Salah - which many speculated would be released as part of the swap conducted over the weekend - had apparently been told by the Syrian officials they will be freed in the next installment of the deal.
The paper cites Majdal Shams sources - a druze village north of the Golan Heights - the hometown of the two prisoners.
On Sunday, Hamis Ahmed, 35, and Zeidan Tawil, 57, were transferred from Israel to the Syrian border town of Quneitra.
Ahmed - released four years early - is a Fatah activist from the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria, while Tawil is a resident of Khader, who was imprisoned in 2008 for drug smuggling. He was to be released in July.
On Saturday, Israel confirmed it had decided to release the two prisoners. An Israeli official claimed the decision was made over the last few days and it wasn’t a condition of Baumel’s initial release by Russia. “Israel has recently decided to release the two prisoners as a gesture of goodwill," he said.