Syria's Assad announces 'general amnesty'

Photo: Syria's Assad announces 'general amnesty' / Arab World

Syrian President Bashar Assad announced a "general amnesty" Monday for all crimes committed to date, state television said, without giving further details, AFP reported.

The channel cited Justice Minister Najem al-Ahmad as saying the decree was issued in the context of "social forgiveness, national cohesion calls for coexistence, as the army secures several military victories."

It was not immediately clear who would be included in the amnesty, which is not the first such announcement since the Syrian civil war broke out more than three years ago.

Rights groups say the Syrian government is holding tens of thousands of prisoners in jails where torture and other abuses are systematic.

Since the outbreak of an anti-Assad revolt in March 2011, the regime has branded all dissidents - non-violent and later armed - as "terrorists", jailing thousands arbitrarily, according to human rights organizations.

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