Syrian President Bashar Assad on Monday announced a “general amnesty” for all crimes committed to date, state television said, without giving further details.
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.
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 — nonviolent and later armed — as “terrorists,” jailing thousands arbitrarily, according to human rights organizations.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fighting flared up in eastern Deir el-Zour province on Sunday and continued into Monday.
The Observatory says the clashes pitted al-Qaeda’s affiliate the Nusra Front against the al-Qaeda breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The two jihadi groups were allies but had a falling out earlier this year and have since intermittently clashed in some of the fiercest rebel infighting in the Syrian civil war.
The Observatory says a month of infighting in Dier el-Zour alone has killed nearly 300 fighters and displaced 100,000 civilians.
It has also weakened the Syrian opposition’s resolve to overthrow Assad. After seemingly having had the regime on the brink of collapse early last year, the rebels have steadily lost control of key areas, allowing Assad to reassert control and hold elections last week.