16 Jan 2012

Another amnesty issued in Syria

8:55 pm on 16 January 2012

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria has issued a general amnesty for crimes against his rule committed since the start of the uprising early last year.

State news agency SANA says the decree covers those who demonstrated peacefully and those who carried unlicensed weapons.

It would also apply to army deserters who turned themselves in before the end of January.

The BBC reports this is not the first amnesty decree by Mr Assad and it is not clear whether anyone has been freed in any of them.

Observers say the move appears to contridict a speech last week by Mr Assad in which he accused the opposition of being terrorists and vowed to crush them.

Since November last year, the regime has announced that it will release nearly 4000 prisoners.

In early November, it promised an amnesty for gun owners who surrender their weapons to police within eight days.

On 31 May, Mr Assad issued a general amnesty for all political prisoners.

On 21 June, he declared an amnesty covering all crimes committed before 20 June, according to SANA.