The Times of Israel reports:

Plundered Syrian Torah scrolls said held by Al-Qaeda-linked rebels

Looters demand the release of prisoners held by Assad in return for Judaica stolen from ancient Damascus synagogue

Mystifying. It’s not a surprise that valuable Judaica has been stolen. Nor is it a surprise that the thieves are offering to trade their ill gotten gains. But how do you join the dots so that the offer to trade with Assad for prisoners makes sense? The baddies get their bad guys back. Assad gets Torah scrolls? This may be a sign that I am relatively new to this part of the world, but it makes no sense to me. What’s in it for Assad? Good PR?

It’s worth mentioning this snippet from the report:

The source said that Qatar may become involved in negotiating the release of the items as part of its diplomatic bid “to play both sides” and demonstrate negotiating capabilities with the Assad regime. Members of the expatriate Syrian-Jewish community are also reportedly involved in the talks.

The mention of the expatriate Syrian-Jewish community sort of makes it more likely something might happen. But what can Qatar or the ex-pats give Assad that makes such a deal a possibility?

Check out the full report, here.