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Assad Issues Amnestry,Reduced Sentences09/15 10:02

   DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a decree Sunday 
granting amnesty and reducing sentences for all crimes committed before Sept. 
14, state news agency SANA said.

   Similar amnesties have been issued on several occasions --- most recently 
last year --- since Syria's crisis began in March 2011.

   According to Sunday's pardon, life-long terms would replace death sentences, 
and a 20-year-long sentence at hard labor would replace life-long sentences at 
hard labor, and a 20-year sentence would replace long-life sentences.

   Prisoners with incurable diseases including cancer would be freed, it said.

   The decree stipulated granting a general amnesty for military deserters who 
turn themselves in within 3 months for those inside the country, and 6 months 
for those outside the country.

   Also Sunday, Assad received Russia's Special Envoy to Syria Alexander 
Lavrentiev and its Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, a day before a 
trilateral summit in Turkey that will include the leaders of Russia, Turkey and 
Iran in which Syria will be the main focus of talks.

   Monday's summit in the Turkish capital of Ankara will discuss the situation 
in the northwestern province of Idlib that has been under attack by government 
forces since April 30. A truce has been holding despite some violations since 
the end of August.

   Russia and Iran are strong backers of Assad while Turkey supports the Syrian 

   SANA said Lavrentiev briefed Assad on the agenda of the summit.


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