Assad decrees general amnesty over unrest: SANA
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, addresses supporters during a rally at a central square in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. AP PhotoSyria's President Bashar al-Assad has decreed a general amnesty for crimes committed during unrest in the country over the past 10 months, the official SANA news agency said on Sunday.
"President Assad issued a decree stipulating a general amnesty for crimes committed during the events between March 15, 2011 and January 15, 2012," SANA reported, without elaborating.
Assad's regime has been rocked by a popular uprising since March, and the United Nations estimated in mid-December that a crackdown on the movement has killed more than 5,000 people.
The government in Damascus says far fewer have been killed while accusing "armed terrorist gangs" backed by foreign powers of being responsible for the violence.
Since November, the regime has announced that it will release nearly 4,000 prisoners "without blood on their hands." In early November, it promised an amnesty for gun owners who surrender their weapons to police within eight days.
On May 31, Assad issued a general amnesty for all political prisoners, including members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.
And on June 21, he declared an amnesty covering all crimes committed before June 20, according to SANA.