Assad grants amnesty for protestors
Yes, but will he folow through? Recent history says - not a chance.
Syria's state news agency says President Bashar Assad has granted a general amnesty for crimes committed during the unrest of the past 10 months.
SANA says the amnesty issued Sunday covers those who have peacefully demonstrated, those who have carried unlicensed weapons and those who hand over their weapons to authorities before the end of January.
It also applies to army deserters who fled military service if they turn themselves in before Jan. 31.
It was not clear how many prisoners would be affected by Sunday's pardon.
Since the outbreak of the uprising against Assad's rule in March, Assad has freed 3,952 prisoners, according to SANA.
The opposition claims there are thousands more in Syrian prisons.
Assad's action comes after the U.N. Secretary General demanded Sunday that he stop killing his own people, saying the "old order" of one-man rule and family dynasties is over in the Middle East.
Human rights groups say that up to 30,000 people have been detained in the last 10 months, so it is very unlikely that Assad will simply open the jails and let out 30,000 more protestors.
This is a tactical move by Assad to head off criticism from the Arab League who are really the only ones who can make his life difficult.