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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued an amnesty on Tuesday for all crimes committed before today except for the crimes of "terrorists" – the regime's term for anti-regime rebels – as fresh violence flared across the country.
President Bashar al-Assad issued an amnesty for all crimes committed in Syria "up until today" with the notable exception of "terrorist crimes", state television said on Tuesday.
Assad, who has been fighting a 19-month-long revolt against his regime, "decreed a general amnesty for crimes committed before October 23" except for those carried out by "terrorists" – the regime's term for anti-regime rebel fighters.
Deadly clashes in Syria showed no signs of easing despite UN plans to assemble a peacekeeping force in case a truce proposed this week by special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi is allowed to take hold.
The decree applies only to criminals who surrender to the authorities and not those on the run, the report said. It was not immediately clear if the amnesty includes those in prison.
The decree replaces death penalty with life sentence of hard labor or long imprisonment sentence according to the crime.
It also replaces life sentence of hard labor with 20 years imprisonment with hard labor, and it replaces the life imprisonment sentence with 20 years imprisonment.
The decree grants amnesty for the whole of life and permanent sentence for people with incurable diseases and the whole permanent sentence for people who completed seventy years of age by the issuance of the decree.
It also includes the whole life sentence for those who completed seventy years of age providing that the crime had been committed before they were sixty.
Crimes of smuggling weapons and drug trafficking are excluded from the provision of this decree.
The decree's terms don't include the fugitives from justice unless they turn themselves in within 30 days for internal flight.
Syrian government forces killed at least 20 people on Tuesday when they shelled a bakery in a neighbourhood under rebel control in the contested northern city of Aleppo, opposition activists said.
The dead included women and children, they said. Video footage, which could not be immediately verified, showed decapitated bodies amid scattered bread loaves.
Majd Nour, an opposition campaigner in Aleppo, said two shells hit the bakery, located in the eastern Hananu neighbourhood, in the early afternoon. Free Syrian Army fighters were guarding it at the time, he said. "The frontline is about two kilometres away from the bakery, at Karm al-Jabal. There has been a lull since the army shelled Hananu overnight," Nour said.
"It was quiet all day and suddenly Assad's forces fired three shells. The first landed near the bakery and the other two hit it," he added.
Aleppo is Syria's biggest city and commercial hub. Rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad launched an offensive to capture it last month and street fighting has taken place on a daily basis since then.
The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday said it had sent food aid to some 1.5 million people inside Syria in September, up from 850,000 a month earlier.
"The situation is worsening," Daly Belgasmi, WFP director for the region, told reporters in Geneva.
Last December, the UN agency had initially aimed to provide food aid to 50,000 Syrians inside the country, but that target has progressively been scaled up to reach 850,000 in August and 1.5 million in September as the crisis pitting President Bashar al-Assad's regime against rebel fighters has deepened, he said.
The situation "is becoming more and more challenging. People are internally displaced once, twice, three or four times, moving from one neighbourhood to another looking for refuge," he explained, adding: "And I'm afraid that the winter will not be helpful."
Originally posted by BaneOfQuo
I am surprised how well Assad has maintained his grasp on power regardless of how many third party entities try to impose influence on the country.