06/01/2011, 00.00
SYRIA

Assad grants general amnesty, but security forces continue to kill

The announcement of a general pardon for all crimes committed before 31 May came as three other civilians are killed in Rastan and Dara. Opponents of the regime say the move was "too little, too late." US: Assad's position becomes “less tenable” day by day.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued a general amnesty to people accused of demonstrating against the regime. The state media has repeatedly spread the news. The government would have also offered some political concessions, but the opposition has largely judged this as "cosmetic.” The government move comes after months of protests against the Assad regime, which led to the killing of more than 1,000 opponents, and jailing of more than 10 thousand according to human rights organizations. The amnesty also covers members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization banned in Syria.

The state media bulletin states, “President Assad grants a general pardon for the crimes committed before 31 May. The pardon includes all those who belong to political movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood." The announcement came as news circulated of the death of three people in clashes between protesters and security forces. A civilian died in Rastan, and two others in Daraa in the south -- the epicenter of the protests. Security forces are using tanks in Rastan as well as in Talbisa, a town in central Syria.

At a conference in Antalya, Turkey, Syrian activists said the government's move was "too little, too late." Abdel Razak Eid, an activist of the "Damascus Declaration" group said, "This measure is insufficient." Another activist said that the amnesty reveals the weakness of the regime. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Assad's position is becoming “less tenable” day by day. "The demands of the Syrian people for change only grow stronger," she said, adding that Mr Assad had "not engaged seriously in any kind of reform efforts".

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