Assad Declares Amnesty for Prisoners

    Inmates are seen behind bars in Aleppo's main prison May 22, 2014. Syrian troops have broken a year-long rebel siege on Aleppo's main prison after heavy fighting with al Qaeda fighters and other Islamist brigades, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Thursday. It said forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad entered the prison compound in military vehicles and gunfire was heard. REUTERS/George Ourfalian (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT) - RTR3QEXQ

    George Ourfalian/Reuters

    Less than a week after winning Syria’s democratic farce, also known as its presidential election, Bashar al-Assad declared a general amnesty for all prisoners within the country on Monday. Syria’s pro-government Al Ikhbariya television station said that the amnesty decree was issued in the “context of social tolerance and national unity,” according to the justice minister. However, it is not remotely clear what Assad means by “amnesty.” It is by no means certain that any prisoners will actually be released. The state-run SANA news agency did not say whether amnesty would apply to tens of thousands of jailed opposition supporters. Instead, SANA’s report implied that the government would reduce sentences rather than free prisoners. Whatever amnesty entails, it is likely not enough to heal the wounds of three years of bloody civil war in which the death toll has been estimated at more than 160,000.

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