Syria’s Assad offers amnesty as UN condemns violence


Syria's president Bashar al-Assad announced an amnesty for crimes committed during the unrest of the past 10 months, as the UN urgent an end to the violence.

"Today, I say again to President Assad of Syria: Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end," UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday in Beirut, Agence France-Presse reported.

The UN says that more than 5,000 people have been killed in Syria's crackdown on protests that began in March, following on from uprisings that toppled three Arab leaders in 2011.

"From the very beginning of the … revolutions, from Tunisia through Egypt and beyond, I called on leaders to listen to their people," Ban said, Reuters reported. "Some did, and benefited. Others did not, and today they are reaping the whirlwind."

According to Reuters:

The conflict in Syria has become one of the bloodiest and enduring confrontations of the "Arab Spring." An escalating armed insurgency, driven by army defectors and gunmen, has raised fears of civil war.

The presence of Arab League monitors inside the country failed to stem the bloodshed.

And despite the threat of crippling international sanctions, increasing isolation and a crumbling economy, Assad has vowed to crush what he calls a foreign-backed conspiracy. 

Syria says 2,000 members of the government forces have been killed by "armed terrorists."

Meanwhile, the Associated Press cited Syria's state news agency, Sanaa as reporting that the amnesty covered those who had demonstrated peacefully and anyone who handed over their weapons to authorities before the end of January.

The amnesty also applies to army deserters who turned themselves in before Jan. 31. 

It was unclear whether the amnesty would cover prisoners, according to RT News.

Since the outbreak of the uprising against President Assad, he has freed 3,952 prisoners. Thousands more are still being kept in prisons, according to international human rights organizations. 

Qatar’s leader Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said Arab troops should be deployed in Syria. 

"For such a situation to stop the killing… some troops should go to stop the killing," the emir told CBS "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired on Sunday.

It is the first time an Arab leader has publicly called for military intervention in Syria.

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