By Ria Novosti
President of Syria Bashar al-Assad has issued a decree granting a general amnesty, the official government news agency SANA reported on Sunday.
The decree says the amnesty applies to persons who committed “crimes amid events that occurred in the period from March 15, 2011 to January 15, 2012.”
The move, which follows similar amnesties in the past, marks ten months since mass anti-government protests erupted in the southern Syrian city of Deraa in mid-March. Between November 2011 and this January, almost four thousand people arrested during protests were released from prisons.
Official Syrian sources do not specify the total number of Syrians detained during protests. International human rights organizations say several thousand rally participants were arrested in Syria during the protests.
The release of all protesters arrested since the start of anti-government actions in the country is one of the opposition’s main demands. This demand is also set in the Syria crisis settlement plan offered by the League of Arab States whose observers are currently working in Syria.
According to UN data, more than 5,000 people have died in Assad’s crackdown on the nationwide protests. Syrian authorities blame the violence, which erupted last March, on armed gangs and say 1,100 soldiers and police have been killed.