Last updated: 4 November, 2011

Syria announces amnesty for weapons surrender

The interior ministry announced an amnesty on Friday for Syrians who surrender their weapons by November 12 in a concession to mark the Eid al-Adha feast, state television reported in a news flash.

“The interior ministry invites those who carry arms, who sold them, distributed them, bought them or financed their purchase and who have not committed any murder to turn themselves in and surrender their weapons to the nearest police station in their district … from Saturday, November 5 to November 12,” the report said.

Those who heed the call “will walk free … and receive an amnesty,” it added.

Syrian authorities have used forced to crush almost daily anti-regime protests since mid-March, and more than 3,000 people have been killed according to UN estimates.

Pro-democracy protesters insist their campaign is peaceful while the government says it has been battling “armed terrorist groups”.

The amnesty announcement comes just days after Syria agreed to an Arab League peace blueprint to end the bloodshed, pledging to withdraw tanks from the streets, release prisoners and engage in talks with regime opponents.

Embattled President Bashar al-Assad has twice ordered general amnesties since the conflict erupted, the first time on May 31 for all political prisoners including the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

In June the president issued a second decree “granting a general amnesty for crimes committed before June 20, 2011,” the state-run SANA news agency reported at the time.

State television and SANA reported Friday that the latest amnesty comes as Muslims prepare on Sunday to celebrate the Eid al-Adha feast ending the annual hajj, pilgrimage, to holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

This amnesty comes “on the occasion of Eid al-Adha in order to preserve security and public order and for the sake of those people who have been tricked and who carried weapons,” the state media reported.