Syria pardons 400 terror-linked prisoners
The Syrian government has pardoned and released a group of more than 400 prisoners held on terror-linked charges and aiding foreign-backed militancy in the Arab country, Press TV reports.
The inmates were freed in the capital Damascus on Thursday under a presidential pardon decree issued by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking to Press TV, Syria’s Minister of Justice Najm Hamad al-Ahmad promised amnesty to those who choose to lay down arms and turn themselves in.
“We have always said that the state of Syria is like a mother and while we crack down on terrorism with one hand we take care of our children with the other hand. We still release more people as we further study their cases not just in Damascus but all over Syria,” said al-Ahmad.
One of the prisoners about to benefit from the pardon said, “I am from the city of Zabadani and I joined an armed group there. I wasn’t arrested but I turned in myself when the army started an offensive in the city as I know the armed groups didn’t have the best interest of Syria in mind.”
“All the commanders are now foreigners from Chechnya, Saudi Arabia and other places,” he added.
The move to release prisoners seems to be an attempt not only to reach out to social segments that support militants in Syria but also to encourage more militants to lay down their arms.
The people of Syria have been witnessing a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 222,000 people, according to the UK-based observatory.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 7.2 million people have been internally displaced, and more than three million others have been forced to flee the country.
According to reports, Western powers and their regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.