Syria's al-Assad pardons detainees as violence continues
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad issued a general pardon on Tuesday for all those detained for "crimes committed" during the unrest in the country, state news agency SANA reported.
The announcement came as Syrian troops attacked several western towns in an attempt to quell anti-government protests, activists said, dpa reported.
The pardon is extended to all those currently detained for crimes committed prior to Tuesday and includes members of all political parties and movements.
One person was killed Tuesday as Syrian troops attacked several western towns in the province of Homs for the third straight day, activists said.
Members of the army and police used machine guns and heavy artillery as they opened heavy fire upon the town of Ruston. One man was killed in the shooting.
Security forces were searching houses and detaining people after 25 army vehicles entered the city. More tanks also entered the town.
At least 11 people have been killed since troops entered the province two days ago in the latest government crackdown on anti-government protesters.
The Syrian government has repeatedly blamed the unrest on foreign infiltrators and Islamic extremists.
According to human rights groups, an estimated 1,100 people have been killed so far in the government crackdown on protesters. Rallies demanding greater freedoms, political reforms and the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad began in March.
Al-Assad came to power in 2000, following the death of his father president Hafiz al-Assad.
He now faces US sanctions as well a visa ban and assets freeze applied by the European Union on him and senior members of his regime.