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Syria’s Assad declares amnesty as election looms

Syria’s President Bashar Assad issues a decree authorizing the release of prisoners, including those convicted for misdemeanors or complicity in acts of “terrorism,” state media says.

The so-called general amnesty comes weeks before the May 26 presidential election, the second such polls since the start of the country’s decade-long civil war. Assad is widely expected to secure a fourth term.

SANA news agency publishes the decree but does not say how many prisoners will benefit.

Syrian President Bashar Assad listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. Putin has traveled to Syria to meet with President Bashar Assad, a key Iranian ally. The rare visit Tuesday comes amid soaring tensions between Iran and the United States following the U.S. drone strike last week that killed a top Iranian general who led forces supporting Assad in Syria’s civil war. (Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The amnesty stipulates that pardons will be granted to prisoners convicted for crimes committed before May 2, 2021, including those convicted for misdemeanors as well as minors facing certain charges.

The decree includes crimes related to the terrorism act of 2012, including “conspiracy” to commit a “terrorist” act. “Terrorism” is a term used by Damascus to encompass acts carried out by rebels and anti-regime activists.

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