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Syria frees 60 prisoners in presidential amnesty

BEIRUT (AFP) – Syrian authorities have freed 60 detainees, including some held in regime prisons for over a decade, in a presidential amnesty which covers terror-related convictions, a war monitor said on Monday.

“About 60 detainees have been released since Sunday, from various Syrian regions, some of whom have spent at least 10 years” in regime prisons notorious for killings and torture, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

President Bashar al-Assad has issued several amnesty decrees during the country’s 11-year war, which broke out after the regime cracked down on mostly peaceful protesters.

But human rights activists said the new decree issued last Saturday is the most comprehensive in relation to terrorism charges.

The new decree calls for “granting a general amnesty for terrorist crimes committed by Syrians” before April 30, 2022, “except for those leading to the death of a person”.

This would mean that tens of thousands of detainees could be released, according to Head of the Britain-based Observatory Rami Abdel Rahman.

Many are accused of terrorism offences, “a loose label used to convict those who are arbitrarily arrested”, he said.